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Hart Sponsors Earthquake Discussion

More than 100 people attend Disaster Preparedness Summit at Valencia High School.

researchers pointing out the probability of a significant earthquake on the San
Andreas Fault sometime within the next 30 years, the Hart District
hosted a disaster preparedness summit Tuesday night at Valencia
High School.

San Andreas Fault (which runs very close to Santa
Clarita) has a very active history with a large earthquake every 150 years. The
last one was in 1857, 152 years ago come January. For the Southern section of
the fault, it’s been 300 years,” said Mark Benthien of the Southern California
Earthquake Center.

Bob Weber assembled an impressive panel of experts, including first responders,
government officials, law enforcement, communications specialists, animal
control and utility managers, to address the response citizens can expect when –
not if – this earthquake occurs. Approximately 130 people attended the discussion.

The panel of experts offered good advice


seemed to be the key. Participants were first shown an animated projection of a
Katrina-like disaster caused by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake causing a rupture in
the San Andreas for 200 miles. The illustration pointed out the differences in
shaking intensity, which will be more than 50 times the shaking produced by the
Northridge quake of 1994, depending on the soil type, thickness of sediments
and other factors. (For the complete video, visit

Hart District Superintendent Jaime Castellanos welcomes attendees, which included Congressman Buck McKeon (left)




had some sobering, but realistic statistics to go along with the projected

  • The
    shaking will last 2 minutes, compared to the 15-second shaking in 1994.
  • The
    10, 14 and 15 freeways will be down, with the bulk of the traffic shifted to
    the I-5
  • 300,000
    buildings damaged in Southern California, some of them
    complete losses.
  • Billions
    of dollars in infrastructure damage to freeways, railroads and utilities, possibly
    cutting off supplies to the rest of the state.
  • $213
    billion in losses from interruption to businesses.
  • 1,600
    separate fires. Many will be fires that, if people had a fire extinguisher in
    their homes, could easily be put out. Number of fires will increase if the
    quake occurs during Santa Ana
  • Loss
    of water, possibly for several months in some areas; not just drinking water,
    but water for hygiene and manufacturing.
  • 270,000
    people displaced
  • 50,000
    people injured, most with injuries serious enough to be seen at a hospital.
  • 1,800
    deaths, which could increase if injured people don’t get treated.


Mark Benthien of the Southern California Earthquake Center outlined the earthquake scenario for the valley.


wasn’t all gloom and doom, tempering his forecast with measures already taken
by some cities, including Santa Clarita, such as the implementation and
enforcement of stronger building codes.

also said that preparedness training, offered by many of the panelists, was
something that could prevent wide-spread disaster in the hours and days
following the initial shake. He reminded the group that many people weren’t
around in 1994 and have no real earthquake experience.

last earthquake felt in Santa Clarita was the Chino
Hills quake in July, which was a light, rolling motion. A magnitude 7.8
quake will be 5,000 times larger than that. Northridge was 50 times smaller
than the earthquake that is expected,” Benthien said. “Children in our schools
now do not remember the Northridge quake, or just have a foggy memory from when
they were small. Add to that a lot of people who have moved to the area who don’t
have that experience.”

Tony Tartaglia of The Gas Company shows how to check and turn off gas meters.


People need to prepare on a larger scale than they experienced
in 1994 as well. “We prepare for a Northridge size earthquake, but we need to
be preparing for a whole new class of earthquake,” he said. “People have to be
able to help each other.

event could potentially change the way we live in Southern
California,” Benthien said. “Northridge didn’t quite get to that
level; some people say the rebuilding pulled us out of an economic downturn,
but this could change our way of life. That has a lot to do with us, what we do
in advance to make sure it doesn’t happen like that.”

after the other, panelists pointed out that residents will have to be prepared
to take care of themselves, as the priority of law enforcement and fire
departments will be to handle large scale damage and not your neighbor’s broken
ankle. Tony Tartaglia of The Gas Company showed the audience how to turn off their
meters if they smelled the telltale rotten egg smell of escaping gas.
Representatives from Henry Mayo
Newhall Memorial
Hospital talked about resources and
supplies available as well as the two trailers stocked with equipment to set up
a temporary medical facility. Donna Nuzzi from the City of Santa
Clarita outlined the city’s emergency operations
center and procedures, while city radio officer Brad Marckwardt talked about
communications that dovetail with those of the city, council and emergency
broadcast systems.

universal message seemed to be learning how to prepare, and the upcoming Great
Southern California Shake Out, an earthquake drill involving 5 million Southern
Californians (and counting) that will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 13.
KHTS will be participating in the Shake Out with a special broadcast and
preparedness tips.  Visit for registration and
information about the event as well as links to valuable information.


Hart Sponsors Earthquake Discussion

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