California quakes reveal crumbling infrastructure damaged by neglect
Two earthquakes struck the Southern California region with tremors stretching from Las Vegas to San Diego. The first one, a 6.4 magnitude foreshock that struck Ridgecrest, a small town located 150 miles east of Los Angeles. Roughly 35 hours later, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake ripped through the same area.
Californians breathed a sigh of relief Saturday morning after it was reported that no fatalities resulted from the quakes.
However, fires did break out due to ruptured gas lines, forcing 3,000 people out of their homes. Within days, semiologists warned more tremblors could be expected.
The quakes were supposedly a “wakeup call,” but for whom exactly remains unclear as state residents have been wide awake wondering when their infrastructure will be repaired.
When the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released their annual state report cards, California infrastructure was given a C-. Specific areas, such as roads, received a D, while bridges scored a C+.
How does the fifth largest economy in the world not have enough money to fix what has been broken for decades? California is the most expensive US state with the highest taxes, yet local leaders routinely remind constituents their cities are broke.
In terms of natural disaster vulnerability, Los Angeles ranks high. Ongoing regional drought, a homeless epidemic, crime, a shortage of trained emergency personnel, and a lack of adequate roadways would provide a long-lasting crisis should a massive earthquake strike the third largest city in North America.
According to the California Department of Insurance, only 13 percent of homeowners have earthquake coverage. That’s a surprising statistic given the amount of seismic activity characteristic of the west coast.
Even more staggering is during the past week, there have been hundreds of earthquakes under the 3.0 magnitude radar, not uncommon for the region.
In March 2017, Trump pledged $1 trillion would be set aside for the nation’s infrastructure. A month earlier, the Oroville Dam spillway disaster in Northern California forced the evacuation of almost 200,000 local residents. In April 2019, the dam reopened, but its safety remains questionable.
After decades of erosion and neglect from both Democrats and Republicans at the state and national level, the tragedy was a reflection of conditions overall and should have sufficed as a wake-up call but didn’t resonate with statewide leaders, and mainly due to its northern location.
Los Angeles will be the site of the 2028 Olympics, and many have said the city’s infrastructure will not be ready by then. Until infrastructure repair is achieved, residents have little choice but to stock up on provisions and ammunition or move out of the state, which many have already done.
Fortunately, California has the best first-response units in the nation, but as analysts have speculated there would not be enough to go around should a catastrophic disaster strike LA
Should a 7.1 magnitude quake hit Los Angeles, waking up wouldn’t be an issue, but going to sleep would be.