Is The High Desert Prepared For The Big One?

Cajon Pass, Interstate 15, San Andreas Fault, and Silverwood Lak

By Ashka Patel

High Desert Daily

(Victor Valley)–The recent Tsunami that was the aftermath of an 8.9 earthquake In Japan has brought many issues and warnings for Southern California.

The Japanese take their earthquakes very seriously and do far more drills and inspections than Californians. Yet even some of their earthquake-resistant structures could not survive the shaking of a quake this big, just as their buildings and overpasses failed catastrophically during the 1995 earthquake in Kobe.

Although the High Desert cannot be affected by a Tsunami because of its 2730 feet of elevation, the geographical area is sitting on the Southern segment (Mojave Segment) of the San Andreas Fault which begins near the Salton Sea and ends where it meets the San Bernardino Mountains.  It runs along the southern base of the San Bernardino Mountains, crosses through the Cajon Pass and continues to run northwest along the northern base of the San Gabriel Mountains. These mountains are a result of movement along the San Andreas Fault and are commonly called the Transverse Range.

Research has concluded that it’s possible to generate an earthquake up to 9.1 along this fault. A magnitude 9.0 quake releases approximately as much energy as 99 million tons of TNT. Of course, all that energy is not focused in one particular spot, but spreads out in waves.

The San Andreas Fault has had some notable earthquakes in historic times. In 1857 the Fort Tejon earthquake, which was the biggest earthquake recorded in US History with a 7.9 magnitude, 1906 San Francisco earthquake 7.8 magnitude, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake magnitude 6.9. , 2004 Parkfield earthquake magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck California on the San Andreas Fault.

This last earthquake was originally expected in 1993 based on the latest earthquake prediction theories of the time, but eleven years passed before the predicted event occurred. Despite the extra time between events, the magnitude of the earthquake was no larger than expected.

The question is: are we prepared for such a natural disaster? In an interview with City Council Member, Mike Rothschild, he stated “That such a major earthquake might split the city in two so the City has a command and control center set up on both sides of the freeway through our fire departments and communications. Yes, we are prepared from a local viewpoint, but if the freeways close because of the collapses: the state would have to come in.”  “The point is we’re going to have lots of people may be coming out of Los Angeles and that’s the big thing to, this speaks to our project with is on the drawing boards and that’s the: East West Corridor, We need to have that freeway connected plenty because when that completes than you have millions of people coming out from Greater Los Angeles through a major earthquake event or even a terrorist event for that matter, they currently don’t have a major highway that connects them  from the back of the mountains unless you build the East West Corridor,” said Rothschild.

City of Victorville Mayor, Ryan McEachron stated, “We do have emergency services that would respond in the case of an earthquake and we would utilize whatever government owned facilities that are available as shelters as well as the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds.  The fire department has an emergency service volunteer corp. of people that are ready to deploy should something like that happen. We are also prepared to contact FEMA immediately,” the Mayor said.

Rothschild also stressed that our area is ready to help those who become displaced by a natural disaster. “For us locally we can handle a city divided into more than two parts because of the bridges collapsing.  We are ready to put shelters together at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds and our major parks.”

Although our city officials are fully prepared, It’s always a good idea to be personally prepared. Remember there are key survival items that you should have at your residence or business which will last for 3-7 days if you are trapped, such as food and water (a gallon a day per person); a first aid kit; a fire extinguisher suitable for all types of fires; flashlights; a portable radio; extra batteries, blankets, clothes, shoes and money (ATMs may not work); medication; an adjustable or pipe wrench to turn off gas or water, if necessary; baby and pet food; and an alternate cooking source (barbecue or camp stove), and an emergency evacuation plan.

It is also recommended to secure all major appliances, water heaters. Also avoid putting heavy objects from falling off from your shelves. If you are financially stable, it’s a good idea to discuss Earthquake insurance with your Insurance Agent.

If you’re outside, get into the open. Stay clear of buildings, power lines or anything else that could fall on you. If you are a caught in a earthquake and are driving, move the car out of traffic and stop. Avoid parking under or on bridges or overpasses. Try to get clear of trees, light posts, signs and power lines. When you resume driving, watch out for road hazards. If you’re in a mountainous area, beware of the potential for landslides. Likewise, if you’re near the ocean, be aware that tsunamis are associated with large earthquakes.

It is also a good idea for parents to confirm that their children’s school is prepared for an earthquake because students might be in their care for up to 72 hours if a major earthquake hits.  Parents should check to see if their child’s teacher is trained in first aid, has a “buddy system” set up with another teacher, if your child’s teacher is injured, and confirm that your children’s teacher Has a file prepared that contains a roll sheet with special medical information, and student release information. To further confirm, make sure the school has a back-up communications system to communicate with local emergency services, if cell phone service is unavailable.

Do School Employees know how to shut off gas lines, check for leaks? It’s always a good idea to discuss the aftermath issue with your child’s teacher and confirm that they are prepared.  Also the classroom should not have overhead items and follow the same guidelines for securing items as for any household.
After an Earthquake check for fire or fire hazards. If you smell gas, shut off the main gas valve. If there’s evidence of damage to electrical wiring, shut off the power at the control box. Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.

You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes. If the phone is working, only use it in case of emergency.

Likewise, avoid driving if possible to keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles. Be aware that items may fall out of cupboards or closets when the door is opened, and also that chimneys can be weakened and fall with a touch.

Check for cracks and damage to the roof and foundation of your home. Listen to the radio for important information and instructions. Remember that aftershocks, sometimes large enough to cause damage in their own right, generally follow large quakes. If you leave home, leave a message telling friends and family your location.

Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help. If the phone is working, only use it in case of emergency.

Victorville seems to be prepared for a major catastrophic event such as an earthquake. However, It’s a good idea to be personally prepared and have all of the emergency telephone numbers, evacuation plans and emergency items stored away. It’s better to be safe than to risk the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

Please see below for details:

The EAS is an emergency warning system that provides the public with immediate information through radio, television, and cable TV if life and property are in danger from a man made or natural occurrence. During an emergency, tune to your local EAS radio broadcast station listed below.

EAS Stations:

95.1 FM KFRG Valley/High Desert

93.3 FM KBHR Big Bear Valley

98.9 FM KHWY High Desert

102.3 FM KZXY Victor Valley

107.7 FM KCDZ Morongo/Joshua Tree

1620 AM Caltrans Information

San Bernardino County Emergency Information Line (909) 355-8800

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