If an earthquake larger then the 6.9-magnitude 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake struck directly below the city of Oakland on the Hayward fault line this afternoon, what kind of havoc would it wreak?
Roughly 2,500 people could get trapped in the rubble and require rescue. An estimated 800 could die and another 18,000 could be severely injured in a scenario presented today by the Haywired Coalition, which includes more than 50 public agencies and institutions like the University of California at Berkeley.
Earthquake experts at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory say that human costs aside, this narrative would also lead to massive and widespread damage to infrastructure as well as private and public property as tremors spread out along 52 miles of the fault line between San Pablo and San Jose.
Gas and water lines could rupture, burning roughly 152,000 households in as many as 400 different blazes that fire departments may not be able to fight effectively, displacing an estimated 410,000 residents in an already hyper-competitive housing market.
Approximately 8,000 buildings would be destroyed, with 100,000 more left unsafe to occupy.
Expected damage to major freeways and bridges could take more than a year to fully repair, complicating efforts to move people, supplies and equipment during the early days after the quake and long afterward.
The Haywired Coalition says this scenario is not intended to scare the public. Rather, they’re trying to help us better understand the risks posed by a major earthquake and build the Bay Area’s capacity to respond and recover from such an event.
Bay Area residents are advised to keep emergency supply kits at home and at work, to secure large appliances and top-heavy furniture to walls and avoid hanging anything heavy above where they sleep.
They also recommend backing up data, creating an emergency plan and consulting with a professional to make sure places of residence are structurally sound.
A comprehensive list of personal home safety suggestions and resources for building community resilience is available online at https://outsmartdisaster.com.
-David Brooksher, Bay City News