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With millions of people taking part in earthquake drills as part of ShakeOut, resilience experts point to the importance of being prepared, especially for companies. A resilience webinar series has been announced.

Written by Megan Sever, science writer and editor (@ megansever4)

Citation: Sever, M., 2020, A ShakeOut focus on resilience, Temblor, http://doi.org/10.32858/temblor.126

In an inventory of the City of Los Angeles to check its seismic hazards, the city found about 15,000 buildings at risk in Los Angeles alone. Credit: pixabay.com

Millions of people around the world today – about 2.3 million in Los Angeles County alone – jumped under their desks, stuck and hooded as part of the Great ShakeOut.

Held annually in October, ShakeOut is designed to get people to think about safety from earthquakes: what to do when an earthquake strikes – fall, cover and wait – and how to prepare in advance. For individuals, preparation means everything from having an emergency meeting plan and assembling an emergency kit to seismically modifying your home and getting earthquake insurance. For businesses, the preparation tends to mean more than the latter.

This means being “proactive about safety and earthquake preparedness,” Evan Rees, executive director of the US Resilience Council (USRC), said at a press conference in Los Angeles yesterday. He said, “Investing in adjusting our existing building stock and making our new buildings more earthquake-proof is essential to maintain the safety of our residents and protect our economy.”

Speakers at a press conference at the Los Angeles District Chamber of Commerce on October 14th, to announce a series of webinars on seismic resilience throughout the year. On the podium is Evan Rees (USRC). Left to right behind Reese: Glenn Pomeroy (CEA), Maria Salinas (Los Angeles District Chamber of Commerce), Fiona Ma (State Treasurer), Aaron Gross (Los Angeles City), Tracy Hernandez (Bizfeed), Stephen Cheung (LAEDC) Ali Al-Sahaby (The best earthquake). Credit: seismic optimization

A press conference was held to announce a new year-long webinar series designed to enhance earthquake resistance especially for companies. The series, which will feature discussions with experts in seismic retrofit, seismologists, engineers, and public and private sector leaders, will begin in November and registration is free on the USRC website.

“We encourage all local businesses and organizations to get involved,” Tracey Hernandez, founding CEO of BizFed, a Los Angeles County business alliance, said at the press conference. After all, Hernandez said, companies need to prepare for and respond to natural hazards. Earthquakes in California are a fact of life. It’s not even about whether the next hit will hit. The better everyone prepares, the more prepared we will be to respond.

If 2020 – with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread devastation caused by wildfires and hurricanes – hadn’t taught us anything else, Hernandez said that “preparedness and resilience have never been more important to the survival of our business community.” “We must be flexible to ensure that our buildings, our economy buzz, and our people are safe.”

The term “resilience” was a buzzword lately. This means having the ability to recover quickly from hardship.

When the Northridge earthquake of 1994 with a magnitude of 6.7 struck the Los Angeles area, more than 80,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed, losses totaled $ 50 billion, and not many companies recovered, said Stephen Cheung, operations director at Los Angeles Economic Development. (Lydec) at the press conference. I lost thousands of jobs forever. “We want to make sure that we never find ourselves in the same devastating situation again,” he said.

“When a building collapses during an earthquake, the owner or tenant is left with no commercial activity,” Hernandez said. If there is no work in operation then the workers lose their livelihoods. As we have seen with COVID-19, when people lose their jobs, they cannot put food on the table and pay rent or a mortgage, added Ali Sahaby, CEO of Optimum Seismic, a seismic modification company. Optimum Seismic is a partner with USRC, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, LAEDC and BizFed on the new webinar series. But Al-Sahaby said these effects could be prevented.

Ali Sahaby of Optimum Seismic talks about the economic benefits of seismic modernization at Wednesday’s press conference. Credit: seismic optimization

These prohibitions include modifying existing buildings and ensuring that new buildings are constructed according to the latest earthquake standards. Rees said modern earthquake-resistant building codes have only been around since the late 1990s – after Northridge. “Nearly 90% of the buildings in major cities were built before the 1990s,” he said. This means that more than 150,000 buildings in California need to be modernized, he added.

Paying for these retrofits is always an issue. The California Earthquake Authority – a publicly funded, not-for-profit housing insurance broker – offers grants to homeowners who have modified their homes, and lenders like Fannie Mae and HUD, as well as the insurance industry is studying ways to offer discounts for businesses, and Rees noted that landlords who have modified Their buildings or design to higher standards. The country also offers seismic safety loans and loans through the PACE program. But it’s also a situation where you need to spend a little now to save later.

“For every dollar spent today, we will save $ 4 in the future in the event of a major seismic disaster,” says California Society member, Adrien Nazarian, who works on resilience policies at the state and local levels.

The shear prepares with Taylor dampers in a retail building. Credit: Ross Stein, Tumbledor

Al-Sahaby said that replacing an affordable multi-family apartment building in California destroyed in an earthquake, for example, would likely cost around $ 700,000. He said it would cost between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 to retool one of them. Of course, retrofitting does not guarantee that the building will not be damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, but it does give it a better chance.

Cheung said, “I want to assure you, by taking these simple steps, that you can protect your business and can save a lot of money and also heartache in the future as well.”

Look, we know that when the big event hits, the impacts on our infrastructure, our communities and our businesses are going to be profound, Reyes said. Flexibility isn’t just good policy, it’s good business.

If you missed ShakeOut today, don’t worry – you can do it anytime. Go to www.shakeout.org to register and get more information.

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