Los Angeles knows and has known for a very long time that it's in a "not if, but when" situation when it comes to a massively destructive earthquake; it's why we've got our own seismologist. While it's going to take a lot of organization and collaboration for such a huge city to collect itself and move forward after a huge earthquake, as explained in Government Technology by reps for the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department and the nonprofit Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Foundation, we do have plans—good ones!—for all the scary scenarios that might go down. Here we've collected all the scariest potential problems that could come up, rated the scariness of each possible post-disaster scenario, using a scale of worried Chiwetel Ejiofors from the classic disaster movie 2012, and outlined possible solutions—just so it's clear how scared (and prepared) everyone should be.
Horrible post-disaster scenario: THE INTERNET IS GONE!?! Oh yes, and also TV and phone.
Possible solution: Though "The impact on communications would be virtually immeasurable," the important stuff could at least get through to emergency responders via a cobbled-together radio network if a disaster struck today. Hopefully, though, we'll have a little bit of time, as the EMD and Motorola are already in the midst of getting together a network that could carry on despite "a major disruption." It's hoped the network will be running by 2015.
Horrible post-disaster scenario: In our digital age, getting access to our money involves a trip to the ATM. But if a catastrophe strikes and you're without cash? Should we all be stuffing box springs with wads of money?
Possible solution: Because it's a terrible emergency, banks may temporarily do decent things like waive ATM fees or cash checks issued by another bank. Later, this will likely be the only thing that Angelenos recall fondly about the scary, post-earthquake times.
Horrible post-disaster scenario: It's the UCLA Flood, Part II: all over town. "Antiquated water pipes and connectors will fail, their brittle structures rupturing in too many places to even make repairs a possibility." Meanwhile, there's no water coming out of the taps and faucets; water is scarce "for days or weeks."
Possible solution: LA's Emergency Management Department has made maps for the most effective distribution of gallon bottles of water to areas throughout the region; also, big-box stores will team up with the department to make sure that emergency necessities are at the ready and that good distribution routes are charted beforehand. (Because as anyone who's ever seen a disaster movie knows, there is always crazy traffic. Which brings us to...)
Horrible post-disaster scenario: In the inevitable event that LA's roadways, freeways, and beautiful cloverleaf ramps "buckle or crumble, which many likely will," how will we do anything or go anywhere? Ugh, life after this disaster is bo-ring.
Possible solution: At least the first 48 hours after a major earthquake/disaster will be consumed with accurately assessing what's broken and what's not. The good news is that contracts are already in place with many companies to insure that, when shit goes down, they'll stop whatever they're doing to help with the clean-up effort. The bad news is, there's no telling how long repairs will take. "There is no way to put a timeline on it. Would we be up and running in six weeks? I wouldn't even know how to answer that question," a rep for LAEMD's Special Traffic Operations Division tells Government Technology.
· L.A. Prepares for the Big Quake Amid the Questions of When and How Large [GT]
· LA Teaming Up With US Seismologist To Prep For The Big One [Curbed LA]
· A Complete Guide to Destroying Los Angeles on Film [Curbed LA]