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News: SEAOC News

A message from SEAOC President Joyce Fuss

Tuesday, July 30, 2019  

BY JOYCE FUSS, SE, SECB, LEED AP
SEAOC PRESIDENT 2018-2019

Earlier this month we had a strong reminder of why what we do is so critical to the well-being of our communities with the M6.4 and M7.1 earthquakes that took place in Searles Valley, CA on July 4th and 5th. We are thankful that so far there appears to be limited moderate damage to structures due to this significant event and our thoughts are with those directly involved in the ongoing recovery. Our member organization in Southern California, SEAOSC was immediately involved in the event response and quickly put their recently-completed disaster response plan into action following the quakes. Congratulations are in order for their forward-looking initiative -they recognized the need for the organization to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice and keep the membership informed of the latest developments after the earthquakes. You can view the SEAOSC Searles Valley Earthquake page HERE.

Our SEAOC Communications Chair Ken O’Dell also participated in a press conference hosted by the County of Los Angeles, which can be viewed HERE.

Some of the key observations and topics of discussion that have come out of these recent events include:

  • Low-rise commercial and residential structures in the area fared well for the most part, the type of construction for residential in the areas affected is predominantly wood framed 1-2 story construction from the 1980s
  • Existing building codes have done a good job of limiting damage in a moderate earthquake and ensuring life safety in a design-basis event, which is one of the primary reasons for the relatively low damage.
  • The next significant seismic event that occurs in a more urban setting will result in far more damage and even collapse of some of the most vulnerable types of structures, as the building stock in these areas spans decades of construction and codes which have significantly improved over time
  • The next generation of design practice and codes will evolve to address the concepts of resilience and Functional Recovery, whereby society can select a better outcome to further limit and control the risk of damage and reduce the cost and time of recovery

The SEAOSC response plan is being updated after the inaugural implementation, and is available to all of our member organizations. The SEAOC board will be taking a look at a plan for our statewide benefit as well.

We will continue to provide updates as more detailed reports come in, as well as ongoing information regarding the continuous developments for what can be done to help us all be better prepared in the future. Several SEAOC members will be attending the ICC/CALBO Seismic Roundtable event at the California State Capital on July 25th and we will have a report on the discussion and information coming out of that next month. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite websites which are sources of some great information for preparedness as well as emergency response. We encourage everyone to create a plan for our homes and businesses:

The 2019 SEAOC Convention is almost here, and there are two important updates we’d like to highlight. A special Searles Valley Earthquake panel is being added to the Friday afternoon Plenary session, and the Blue Book is coming! We are very pleased that the Blue book will be available at the convention for those attendees who would like a printed copy. We greatly appreciate those who donated as sponsors of this milestone publication. 

Looking forward to seeing you at the convention and hearing from you on the initiatives mentioned above.