Cal­i­for­nia quakes re­veal crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture dam­aged by ne­glect

Global Times US Edition - - USSOCIETY - By Lance Crayon

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.