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Earthquake Could be Worse than Hurricane

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Original Title:
Experts Warn California Quake Could Surpass Katrina Devastation

It's a disaster experts know is coming, and it could dwarf the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

A magnitude 8.0 quake would hit Southern California with a force up to 32 times greater than the 1989 Loma Prieta tremblor in the Bay Area. Vital energy, gas and water conduits stretched across the San Andreas fault would be destroyed, leaving millions without critical, life-sustaining supplies for weeks. Many hospitals that haven't been retrofitted to survive a mega-scale quake, would be severely damaged and unable to handle mass casualties. Thousands would die and tens of thousands would be left homeless as the infrastructure of Los Angeles buckled.

State seismic experts say the dire predictions that a large-scale earthquake will rock California are very real and in need of immediate attention.

"We're talking about a 1906 event on the San Andreas fault on the order of a 7.9, 8.0 magnitude earthquake," California senior geologist Bill Bryant said.

Studies show the entire state faces a cataclysmic earthquake danger in the coming decades. Researchers at the Southern California Earthquake Center said there is an 80 to 90 percent chance that a 7.0 or greater magnitude quake will strike Southern California before 2024. Meanwhile, projections show a 62 percent probability that at least one earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or higher will strike the Bay Area before 2032.

An ominous Federal Emergency Management Agency training session held in August 2001 underscores the renewed interest in California's earthquake preparedness. At the meeting, officials said the three most likely disaster scenarios to occur in the United States were a terrorist attack in New York City, a massive hurricane hitting New Orleans and a violent earthquake crippling California. Within four years, two of the three predictions had come true.

California Office of Emergency Services spokesperson Sheryl Tankersley said only 30 percent of Californians have assembled an emergency survival kit, a vital step toward preparing for an earthquake disaster.

"It's extremely important for every individual, every man, woman, and child in the state of California, to have at least a three day supply of whatever they may need to survive," Tankersley said.

The OES recommends that survival kit items include food, one gallon of water per person per day, medication and first aid kits, as well as portable radios, flashlights and spare batteries.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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