Earthquake Questions with #StratiscopeExpert Answers

by | Jul 8, 2019 | Community Resilience, Earthquake Preparedness | 0 comments

On Sunday, July 7th, Stratiscope CEO John Bwarie hosted a Q&A twitter session with #StratiscopeExpert Dr. Lucy Jones, Founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, Ken O’Dell, President of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC), and Tim Gaspar, CEO of Gaspar Insurance.



Dr. Lucy Jones on Earthquakes


: What do you think would’ve happened if the recent quakes had occurred much closer to LA or Las Vegas?

Dr. Lucy Jones: If the fault was at the edge of the cities, it would have been like Northridge. If it was in the city – say, the Hollywood fault – we would have seen substantial damage to older structures, probably 100s of fatalities, fires breaking out around the city, loss of water.


: Why is it advised to stay inside of your house during an earthquake? I always panic and go outside for fear the building will crumble on me.

Dr. Lucy Jones: 3 reasons: 1, the outside of a building is the most dangerous part and to get outside you have to go through the danger zone, 2) It is dangerous to try to run in a quake – you will be thrown to the ground, 3) running outside will put you in the path of flying objects.


: Help. I can’t sleep. Please tell me we’re ok.

Dr. Lucy Jones: The chance of a damaging quake in the LA metro area has not gone up. It is no different than it was last week. If you are in Ridgecrest, you will feel shaking for many more days but the chance of another M6+ is below 10%.


: Was the 7.1 the “Big One” that was overdue or is there something even bigger in the future?

Dr. Lucy Jones: The M7.1 is not a “Big One”. It only caused damage for <50k people. It was not on the San Andreas or any of the other big faults in metro areas. We average a quake of this size about 5x per century in SoCal. Our future will include M8s.


: Does the chance go down every day this week or does it stay contestant until the week ends?

Dr. Lucy Jones: The rate of quakes will go down every day. It will take more than a year to get down to the rate the area had before the M7.1.


: Is “The Big One” strictly considered a San Andrea’s event or is it a more fluid term for any large, damaging earthquake within LA County? (I.e. a 7.2 on Newport Inglewood)?

Dr. Lucy Jones: The “Big One” is not an official term. In my book The Big Ones, I use it to mean any disaster so big that it changes the nature of society. The most likely source of such a big quake in SoCal is the San Andreas, but a M7.2 on the Hollywood or Santa Monica fault would also be bad


: What determines whether or not there is a risk of a tsunami following a major quake?

Dr. Lucy Jones: A quake only causes a tsunami when it changes the shape of the seafloor. This can be because the fault is under the sea and is moving up the ground, or because an onshore fault triggers an underwater landslide. The quake has to be at least M7 and probably M8+ to do any of this.


: How long did the earthquakes on July 4th and July 5th last? They felt like an eternity!

Dr. Lucy Jones: The faults were moving for about 8-10 seconds on 7/4 and ~15 seconds on 7/15. You may have felt shaking for a longer time because of echoing of the waves as they bounce around.


: Was the 7.1 overdue?

Dr. Lucy Jones: Overdue doesn’t mean anything for quakes. We can see a rate – a M7+ somewhere in SoCal about 5 times per century. But just like “100-year flood”, they might happen close together or a long time apart.


: What are the chances of a 7+ happening in the LA area?

Dr. Lucy Jones: The chance of a M7+ in the LA area is 100% – just give us enough time. We just don’t know when.


Ken O’Dell on Building Safety


: If you’re around tall buildings and an earthquake starts, should you stay outside or go inside a building?

Ken O’Dell: The first thing to remember is drop, cover, hold on… Tall buildings MAY shed glass so be sure to protect you head and neck… glass falls away from the building so better to be close the the exterior or inside.


: I’m finding myself unable to go back to my loft on the top floor of an apartment building in DTLA (12th floor). Is it safe to be up that high during an earthquake?

Ken O’Dell: The height of your apartment is less a specific concern, the higher you are you will likely feel more swaying and may have more damage from displaced items.


: I live on the 4th floor apt of a newly constructed building ~2014 – what do I need to do when a >7.3 strikes if I’m indoors?

Ken O’Dell: First step….Drop, cover, hold on. Only when the motion has stopped should you try to inspection your surroundings.


: I live in a 3 story, not retrofitted apartment building in LA (Echo Park). I’m looking for a reason to move—is this it?

Ken O’Dell: In LA, all soft story buildings are now mandated to be retrofitted. It is important to remember that retrofit is intended to make a building “safer”…it does not make a building “new”… Before you make a decision talk to the landlord.


: If you live in an upstairs older apt in Las Vegas, NV and an earthquake occurs, such as the mag we had recently, what safety tips would you provide? I don’t have a desk or a table.

Ken O’Dell: If don’t have a table to protect you, be sure that you are away from something that can fall on you… Make sure your belongings, bookshelf, refrigerators, TV, Monitors, etc. are secure before the earthquake happens.



Tim Gaspar on Insurance


Question: How do I get Earthquake Insurance?

Tim Gaspar: You can secure coverage through your home insurance carrier (through the California Earthquake Authority if your home carrier participates). Or through a private carrier via an independent insurance agent.


Question: A second question we’ve gotten a lot is that earthquake insurance is too expensive to get? What’s your reaction to that statement?

Tim Gaspar: If we agree there is a significant chance of an earthquake that will cause significant damage in the next 30 years, the question is will you get a return on your investment in buying earthquake insurance. Premiums have actually fallen in the last few years, it’s a good buy.


: How much insurance deductible do I need if I can get an SBA loan in a natural disaster?

Tim Gaspar: Deductibles are now as low as 2.5%. You can get an SBA loan after a natural disaster usually up to $250k so you should ideally keep your deductible under $250k if you can. Additionally you can collect up to $35k from FEMA as a grant.


: What are your suggestions for renters? Is it smart to get insurance even if you aren’t a homeowner? What level of coverage is recommended?

Tim Gaspar: The good news is EQ insurance for renters is really inexpensive in most cases (under $200 a year). This can pay for a hotel, loss of your personal property and other related expenses.