Today, Jan. 17, 2018, marks the 25th anniversary of the devastating Northridge, Calif., earthquake.
Coachella Valley Emergency Managers mobilized and responded to the 6.7 quake. They saw firsthand the awesome power of the quake and its aftershocks.
The Northridge Mall looked like it was struck by a bomb. Cal State University’s parking structure looked like a stack of pancakes. Apartments collapsed on their poorly designed support structures, homes were knocked off their foundations, and brick fireplaces crumbled. The freeway flyover is burned into your memory. Thousands were homeless.
The disastrous Northridge quake left residents and businesses without water and power. It overwhelmed local and state government resources. Some unscrupulous business owners were price gouging for bottled water and groceries.
Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Director James Lee Witt, himself a former state Office of Emergency Services official, shined in his role. Sadly, our state counterparts did not do as well in the wake of the Northridge disaster.
Shelters went up, the Red Cross was on scene, disaster assistance centers were cutting checks on scene for families, and the federal and state response worked hand-in-glove after initial missteps.
This is not to say everything was all roses during and after the Northridge incident. Getting food, water, portable restrooms, generators, tents, and other supplies took longer than first responders and emergency managers had hoped. It takes time for everything to come together and help all the areas and people impacted and displaced.
Ken Weller, Richard Signs, Bill Lord, Jeff Latendresse, Roger Hirdler, Blake Goethe, Karen Pirozzi, and Camille Duncan formed the nucleus of the Emergency Managers for the cites and schools in the valley. Dr. Mark Benson, an ER doctor from Eisenhower made major contributions to disaster medicine nationwide. Your cities invested in disaster readiness making the valley better prepared than most regions in the event of another Northridge equivalent event.
Today families and businesses must be prepared to survive for weeks not days. The valley sits astride a ticking time bomb. A fault that is long overdue for a 7.3 quake.
For more information on earthquake preparedness, please contact your city hall, public safety officials, or local emergency manager. The life you save may be your very own.