Disaster Readiness in San Diego

Earthquake, typhoon, wildfire.
“What I see from other parts of the world, even the nation, I
think California could learn more,” reflected University of California,
San Diego Professor José Restrepo. The director of Operations for the
Charles Lee Powell Structural Laboratories lived through a 7.2 magnitude
earthquake in Columbia in 1979, which fueled his interest in structural
He says the main focus now is: “What do we do with older
In San Diego, Restrepo says homes and other multi-storey buildings
constructed before the 1970’s will be at risk in a temblor.
“I think most of our schools, hospitals, and universities are well
prepared to handle an emergency.” As will most bridges. But the real
test of emergency preparedness comes in the first 72 hours.
“If you can prepare and take care of the people that you love, and
yourself, then you’re best able to help your neighbors,” says Therese
Rymer, a Registered Nurse who heads UCSD Medical Center’s Emergency
Preparedness and Response Program.
She says abrasions, and head traumas are common during an
earthquake. “One of the largest number of injuries out of the
Northridge earthquake so many years ago was actually glass cuts to the
Flashlights, whistles, water and medical supplies are necessary
objects in a survival kit, however, Karen Reimus, from the non-profit
group United Policyholders, says don’t forget about insurance.
“It’s one of the most important components in recovering from a
catastrophic loss.”
Reimus says about 60 percent of people are underinsured.
“I think you need to protect yourself to the best degree that you
can, and not count on charitable assistance.”
But in California, coverage is expensive. According to
Commissioner Poizner’s officer, between 12 and 13 percent of
Californians have earthquake insurance. However, the U.S. Geological
Survey predicts a 6.7 magnitude or higher earthquake is likely in
Southern California in the next 30 years.
“If you’re in proximity to a fault, you’ve got equity in your
home, and if you don’t have enough money to repair or replace if you
suffer an earthquake loss, it’s a good investment.”
An average deductible on an earthquake insurance policy in San
Diego could be as high as $60,000 out of pocket. Some low interest
loans are available through the government to help pay that deductible
but some may not qualify.