Report: The next big earthquake in Southern California could cost billions
Seeley Market merchandise lies scattered and broken on the floor April 5, 2010, after the 7.2-magnitude Easter earthquake hit. (Joselito Villero)
Though more than a year has passed, there haven’t been measures taken to secure some of the merchandise because earthquakes just can’t be predicted, she said in Spanish. And in Imperial Valley, it can’t be avoided.
Though Ortiz lost some money, the consequences of a big quake could be a lot worse.
A new study says a big Southern California earthquake would rattle the region’s economy as well as its buildings.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says a magnitude-7.8 quake would affect hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of workers in Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. San Diego County wasn’t included in the study.
While Imperial County would be spared from much of the damage that areas like San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties would face, an estimated 370 businesses locally would be affected, according to the report.
“Of course there’d be a lot of physical damage, but what we’re trying to point out is there are a lot of businesses in some of the heaviest shaking zones of this earthquake,” said one of the report’s authors Richard Holden, regional commissioner.
Damage in Imperial County from a quake on the San Andreas Fault is expected in businesses along the Salton Sea and some areas farther south, he said. Given that the area has a lot of desert areas, there aren’t as many businesses as other areas.
The damage to different businesses and buildings depend on each one individually, Holden said.
Throughout the region, there are a lot of businesses affected and if the 434,000 employers each closed for a year, there is the potential for $206.5 million in annual wage losses, according to the report. The new report says that those losses could ripple throughout the national economy.
Locally, people didn’t express too much concern over pending earthquakes, though federal government officials have warned that an earthquake is overdue.
Memories of cleaning up local businesses still stand strong with some workers here.
Ashley Abubo, who works at Fifth Avenue Books, can remember spending two hours picking up and sorting pencils at the downtown El Centro store. While books stayed on the shelves, one of the displays that holds hundreds of pencils was knocked over last April.
There were a few cracks in the walls, but those have gotten patched up, she said. It’s an old building, and it’s stood up well with time and many other earthquakes.
“We were lucky,” she said.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
By the numbers
370 businesses located in very strong or destructive shaking zones in Imperial County
2,000 jobs employed at those businesses
$60 million in annual wages from those jobs
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Geological Survey joint study