The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle today features a story about the Hayward Fault. the earthquake fault expected to rumble next, and cause catastrophic damage to the Bay Area. Foster City residents, take precautions to save your house before an earthquake because once it comes, it is too late. Everyone knows about the San Andreas Fault. It runs down most of California coming onto land in Daly City and exiting land in the Sea of Cortez in Baja, California. The Hayward Fault runs parallel to the San Francisco Bay and sits under the hills where there are multiple schools, hospitals, houses, the University of California and Hayward State University. It may be shorter, but it is now being considered much more dangerous to all of us living here. The damage anticipated could be larger than Katrina. They’re talking economic loss of up to $165 Billion.
This is major and will impact the world. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to bio-tech, high tech, major corporations, universities and multiple other kinds of businesses. What makes this so scary is that most of us do not have insurance for earthquakes. It’s just too expensive to buy and doesn’t cover much and requires a $10,000 deductible per $100,000 of coverage. The average priced home in San Mateo County is in the low $800,000’s. You do the math. That’s why most people do not take the coverage.
This map, which can be seen more clearly here, shows where the fault lies and how Foster City sits right across the bay. We all sit right across the bay but most communities on the Peninsula aren’t worried about soil that could have liquefaction.
Liquefaction happens to soil with a high water table, and the water pushes up and causes the land to turn to mush. Wikipedia explains it nicely here. Foster City abuts the Bay and most of the city sits on what was once marshland, drained, and filled so it could be built upon. The US Army Corps of Engineers designed huge pumps to maintain water levels on the many waterways meandering the city. These pumps keep water levels even – no high or low tides ever in Foster City, unlike in the bay waters. Because of these pumps Foster City isn’t in a flood zone.
But, we are living on land that rocks and rolls with earthquakes. In fact, it rocks and rolls when heavy trucks rumble down streets! Therefore, precautions need to be taken to protect our houses and possessions from the inevitable. The Big One.
Scientists really know little about earthquakes except that they cause huge amounts of damage. If you’ve never gone through a quake, it’s rarely the major rumble that causes damage it’s the after shocks that keep coming that not only cause the damage to buildings and houses but to nerves, as well.
The last big one around here, Loma Prieta, was a 6.9 jolt. But, it didn’t happen on any of the faults surround the bay. It happened under the Santa Cruz Mountains about 60 miles south of Foster City and because of this, there was little damage to Foster City and the communities on the Peninsula. We were lucky. Where most of the damage occurred in San Francisco was on landfill, in the Marina. Now a lot of San Francisco is landfill. Much of the waterfront area is landfill and it extends into the Financial district. It wasn’t unusual for buried ships to be excavated when new buildings were being dug. It was the same issue in Oakland. Foster City did pretty well during Loma Prieta but no one expects that to be the case when the Hayward Fault erupts.
What can you do? Simple things really. Bolt things to the wall. Baby closures for cabinets work well for earthquakes, too. Don’t have anything that can fall on you over your bed. Keep shoes or slippers next to your bed, should you need to get up quickly and there’s broken glass on the floor. Buy an Eton wind-up radio, have batteries ready for flashlights. Keep a large container in a place easily reached with water, food, pet foot, first aid, toilet paper and either sleeping bags or warm blankets. Don’t expect to be able to drive your car immediately. Roads may be blocked. Your garage door may not open. You must figure on being self sufficient for at least 48 hours so have a plan on where to meet family members who might be separated from you and make sure your cell phones are fully charged. They may not work due to jammed cells. If you have a land line phone, that should work, and it will be easier for you to call out than to get calls in. Have a family member or friend who lives in another state be the point person for everyone to check in with and do it.
Take some time and visit OSH, Home Depot or Lowes and look over their large selection of items they stock to help you protect your home from damage. Much of it is not expensive and every penny you spend now, you’ll thank yourself for having done it after the Big One hits. What are you waiting for?