Quake scare on the Central Coast reminds many people of the real risks

Bridges, water, power, and more could go out

New buildings may be safer in a big quake, but many areas vulnerable.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After a system glitch and a false report of a major Santa Barbara earthquake, some people are thinking about what the impacts of a big one would be today.

The fake quake was yet another wake-up call.

Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services Manager Robert Lewin says the magnitude 6.8 quake that was referenced in the mistaken alert is equivalent to the one that was destructive in Santa Barbara in 1925, and it would be one that would leave sweeping damage if it hit today.

“It can cause fire, it can cause a building to collapse, it can isolate us as a community because bridges can be lost” said Lewin.  He also said the triggering events will can cause the area “to lose power, we can lose water. Those are the things we are going to have to respond to."

Santa Barbara is going through a significant housing and commercial development boom this year.The structures have to meet the highest quake and fire requirements before they are permitted to open.  Even though they are safe, others nearby could be vulnerable in what is an old city.

The last big one in the Central Coast area was a magnitude 6.6 earthquake off San Simeon that damaged numerous buildings in San Luis Obispo County.  Two people died.

It was a vivid reminder of the deadly impacts of a large quake.   

Emergency officials say they go through scenarios regularly and the public should do the same in order to have a response plan.

In addition to your personal safety “Ready Set Go” kits, a working plan with neighbors can also be life-saving.

If the major natural disaster blocks off access points, either in a specific region or the entire Central Coast, supplies may have to be brought in via a barge or plane to help the area recover.

“We’re better now than we have been and we need to continue to upgrade those facilities that we have identified,” said Lewin.

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