San Francisco Hosts 100th Earthquake Conference, Predicts What If Scenarios

More than 2,500 delegates from around the world gathered in commemoration of San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake at the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference — the largest earthquake conference ever held — in San Francisco this week. There, earthquake professionals and policymakers from the Executive Branch, Congress, and the Bay Area examined the latest analyses of the threat of a 1906-size earthquake and the best practices in use to determine new policies needed for increased preparedness.

According to the report, “When the Big One Strikes Again,” released at the event, if the 1906 earthquake were to happen today, “it
would affect many of Northern California’s nearly 10 million residents and cost between $90 and $120 billion to repair or replace the more than 90,000 damaged buildings and their contents. As many as 10,000 commercial buildings would sustain major structural damage and between 160,000 and 250,000 households would be displaced from damaged residences. Depending upon whether the earthquake occurs during the day or night, building collapses would cause 800 to 3,400 deaths. More than half of these deaths would result from the collapse of old concrete, unreinforced masonry and other vulnerable
buildings yet to be strengthened.”

Speakers at the conference included Secretary of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Representatives Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, State Senator Don Perata President Pro Tem, Mayor Gavin Newsom, former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, and Public Policy Institute of California Research Director Mark Baldassare, as well as more than 1,600 earthquake professionals from around the world representing the fields of earthquake science, engineering, emergency management, risk management, and education.

“Collaborating with individuals from different disciplines [helped] raise new questions as to how the Bay Area can be better prepared for the next Big One,” said Chris Poland, Chairman of the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference. “The conference is the forum where people from different professions [worked] together to shape the actions the Bay Area needs to make before another major earthquake strikes us.”

The conference, held April 18-21 at Moscone Center, joined the annual meetings of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Seismology Society of America (SSA), and California Office of Emergency Services (CA OES). The latest findings included a release of most accurate estimate of the deaths and damage today’s Bay Area would sustain in a repeat of the 1906 earthquake, USGS’s “QuakeMotion” video which depicted how the Bay Area would fare in a 1906-like earthquake, and the 10 action steps our communities must take to avoid a catastrophic disaster.

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