Quake Regions Are Not Powerless

One million dollars in mitigation equals $7 million in recovery. That’s according to John Holmes, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, who believes communities at risk of earthquakes can reduce the loss of life and damage in the future.

In an article on the Voices of America news website, Brian Padden says the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that killed thousands off the Indonesian island of Sumatra last month was “not an unusual occurrence.” Geophysicist Jessica Sigala of the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center told Padden the number of annual quakes has been fairly constant.

Communities along fault lines, which are at high risk, can expect and mitigate disasters. Loss prevention specialist Brian Tucker, president of Geo Hazards International, said the technology to secure buildings in preparation for earthquakes isn’t rocket science. It’s a matter of making sure walls are interconnected and tied to roof members and to the floors of each storey. Tucker urged the city of Padang to invest in its structures because “there is a good chance of a tsunami occurring in … the lifetime of the kids that are alive today in Padang.”

Besides earthquake-proofing its buildings, Tucker said the city should make sure roads allow for quick evacuation from the city; move schools, hospitals and other essential buildings away from the high-risk area; and build city structures tall enough to provide shelter from the waves.

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