The story

1994 Northridge earthquake

1994 Northridge earthquake



We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

At 4:31 a.m. on January 17, 1994, a 6.7-magnitude quake struck the San Fernando Valley, a densely populated area of Los Angeles located 20 miles northwest of the city’s downtown. The quake was caused by the sudden rupture of a previously undocumented blind thrust fault. The Northridge quake, named after the San Fernando Valley community near its epicenter, was the costliest in U.S. history, with damages estimated at more than $20 billion, and resulted in 57 deaths

Northridge Earthquake: January 17, 1994

Damage was widespread, as buildings, shopping centers, parking lots and portions of major freeways all collapsed. At least 57 people perished, while thousands more were injured. At the Northridge Meadows apartment complex, 16 people were killed, all of whom lived on the first floor, when the three-story, stucco-and-wood structure fell down on them. A motorcycle police officer died when his vehicle plunged off of a just-collapsed section of freeway.

The fact that the quake occurred on a federal holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and in the early morning hours when most people were home in bed was critical in reducing the number of casualties. Another important factor was that the building and safety codes in Los Angeles had been strengthened following a powerful quake in the San Fernando Valley in 1971 (also called the Sylmar Earthquake).

Northridge Earthquake: Aftermath

Following the Northridge disaster, which was responsible for estimated damages in excess of $20 billion, the majority of insurance companies representing homeowners in California severely restricted–or completely stopped offering—new policies because the law required them to also offer earthquake coverage. In response, the state created the California Earthquake Authority as a publicly managed, primarily privately funded organization providing basic residential earthquake coverage.


Seismo Blog

Is your water heater properly strapped to the wall? Do you have additional insurance on your house with the California Earthquake Agency (CEA)? If so, then you can thank a horrible event, which happened 15 years ago today in Southern California.

It was about 4:30 am when Clarence Dean was rudely awakened in his home in Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County. A major earthquake had shaken his house badly. He got up, dressed quickly and then jumped onto his Kawasaki Police 1000 motorcycle. Dean was an LA motorcycle cop, and this Martin Luther King Day would have been his day off. But he knew he would be needed at his Van Nuys police station because of the earthquake. From his home, it took him only a couple of minutes until he reached Highway 14. There he took the westbound direction and sped towards LA, the blue emergency strobe flashing on his bike. But he never made it to his assigned post. The swooping viaduct where Highway 14 meets Interstate 5 had collapsed in the quake. Where two lanes of concrete had been built in a gentle arc high above the ground, there was nothing left. In the darkness, Officer Dean spotted the gap too late and flew 75 feet through the air before crashing, 30 feet below, in a cascade of sparks and screaming metal.

Damage from the Northridge earthquake (Photo courtesy of M. Celebi, USGS)

The policeman was one of 72 people who died on that morning in a 6.7 quake, with a hypocenter 10 miles beneath the town of Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. Had it not been a federal holiday, many more people might have died during the early morning commute. Besides the 5/14 interchange, the Santa Monica Freeway (I 10) had collapsed near Cienega Boulevard, making this major artery unusable for weeks. Most of the damage, however, occurred in the town of Northridge, hence the name for this costliest temblor in US history. Homes, apartment buildings and even hospitals collapsed all over the San Fernando Valley. It was later estimated that the quake had caused more than $20 billion worth of damage. As a consequence, many insurers of private homes stopped offering protection against earthquakes in our state.

The same region had been the victim of a similarly damaging temblor 23 years earlier, the San Fernando earthquake of 1971. Seismologists later found out that these two quakes occurred on two different, previously unknown faults. After the Northridge quake, the California Legislature passed several laws in a rare form of bipartisan unity. One gave life to CEA, which now underwrites earthquake insurance statewide. The building code was also amended, requiring each newly installed gas-powered water heater to be strapped to the wall. Too many heaters had fallen on that fateful morning 15 years ago, breaking the gaslines and causing devastating fires. (hra028)


The Northridge earthquake: community-based approaches to unmet recovery needs

The 1994 Northridge, California earthquake has proven to be one of the most costly disasters in United States history. Federal and state assistance programmes received some 681,000 applications from victims for various forms of relief. In spite of the flow of US$11 billion in federal assistance into Los Angeles and Ventura counties, many victims have failed to obtain adequate relief. These unmet needs relate to the vulnerability of particular class and ethnic groups. In response to unmet needs, a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have become involved in the recovery process. This paper, based on evidence collected from hundreds of in-depth interviews with the people involved, examines the activities of several community-based organisations (CBOs) and other NGOs as they have attempted to assist vulnerable people with unmet post-disaster needs. We discuss two small ethnically diverse communities in Ventura County, on the periphery of the Los Angeles metropolitan region. The earthquake and resultant disaster declaration provided an opportunity for local government and NGOs to acquire federal resources not normally available for economic development. At the same time the earthquake created political openings in which longer-term issues of community development could be addressed by various local stakeholders. A key issue in recovery has been the availability of affordable housing for those on low incomes, particularly Latinos, the elderly and farm workers. We discuss the successes and limitations of CBOs and NGOs as mechanisms for dealing with vulnerable populations, unmet needs and recovery issues in the two communities.


Northridge Earthquake

Aftershocks Northridge’s main 6.7 moment magnitude quake broke up many structural foundations, and permanently raised the ground 20 inches in various parts of the San Fernando Valley. Thousands of aftershocks devastated already weathered buildings, trapping many people below the rubble of parking structures and freeway overpasses. As one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, estimated at more than $40 billion, Northridge can be compared in terms of financial loss to 1992 Hurricane Andrew and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

The damage Occurring 16.5 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the height of the Northridge quake activity was just 11.8 miles below the Earth's crust, making sitting ducks of one of the nation's largest populations. To make matters worse, a "blind" thrust fault quake — a fault that does not extend to the surface — is nearly impossible to predict. The Northridge earthquake produced the strongest ground motions ever instrumentally recorded in a North American urban setting. Structural damage was recorded as far away as 52 miles from the heart of the shake, and earthquake activity was felt from Las Vegas, Nevada, to San Diego. Structural damage was reported to more than 12,000 homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, leaving many people homeless for extended periods. Damage was wide-spread: Sections of major freeways with unwrapped supports and unextended expansion joints collapsed parking structures and office buildings with concrete framing (non-ductile) collapsed and numerous apartment buildings suffered irreparable damage. Damage to wood-frame apartment houses was widespread in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica areas, especially to structures with soft first floor or lower-level parking garages. The high accelerations, both vertical and horizontal, lifted structures off their foundations and shifted walls — laterally triggering major fires. In all, eight Southern California freeways were damaged, including the Highway 14 and Interstate 5 interchange. The interchange's collapse cut off freeway access to Los Angeles for hundreds of thousands of residents of northern Los Angeles County. Ironically, that interchange had collapsed 23 years earlier, during the Sylmar Earthquake of 1971. On the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains, which separate the valley from the rest of Los Angeles, entire sections of the Santa Monica Freeway collapsed, shutting down a key traffic artery linking Downtown with the city's west side. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, suffered more than $44 million in damage. Farther south of Downtown, the Watts Towers sustained $2 million damage that required seven years to repair. California State University-Northridge was grievously damaged. In the three years that followed Northridge, more than 681,000 residents applied for assistance from federal and state governments — making the earthquake both a devastating natural and economic disaster. Earthquake readiness Although casualties resulting from the Northridge quake were relatively minimal because it was early morning and on the Martin Luther King holiday, will such coincidences save lives next time? The question has been addressed by scientists of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Following the Northridge earthquake, the USGS has utilized the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) funding to pursue post-earthquake investigations designed to understand the damaging effects of the earthquake. Since the the NEHRP's induction, the California Department of Conservation has installed seismic hazard mapping and zoning graphs. Some 600 accelerographs, similar to the "black box" recording devices on airplanes, also have been added to further help determine what kind of force buildings, bridges and other structures sustain in a quake. Although those devices are important in compiling information for building structurally sound architecture, scientists are still not able to predict an earthquake. Researchers at the Southern California Earthquake Center have determined that there is an 80 to 90 percent chance that a temblor of 7.0 or greater magnitude will strike Southern California before 2024.


The Northridge Earthquake 1994: A Tale Of Two Perfusionists

The recent earthquakes in Japan (April 15, 2016, 7.0 magnitude) and Ecuador (April 16, 2016, 7.8 magnitude) brought back the grim reminder of how fragile life is. From the death toll to the devastation of property, you may think you are prepared but, to paraphrase an old military truism: “All the best laid plans are forgotten with first combat”.

Ric Narvaez and myself have experienced some profound moments in our life. Moments that are etched in your memory to the point where that date, a certain smell or a musical chord will bring back a vivid reminder of where you were during that, more often than not, very unhappy and unsettling time. One of those events for the two of us was the Northridge, CA earthquake of 17 January 1994.

It started out for Ric a day earlier at Northridge Hospital, fifteen miles North of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. He was the Perfusionist in charge, managing a very sick and fragile male undergoing a CABG for complex coronary artery disease. Each attempt to wean the patient from bypass would cause the heart to fail. The surgeon decided to insert an IABP while back on bypass. Again, the attempt was made to wean the patient from bypass only to witness ventricular function begin to fall. The surgeon decided to insert a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) to compensate for the failing LV. Initially, the LV showed signs of improvement. However, right ventricular pressure remained high and would not respond with conventional treatment. A decision was made to insert a Right Ventricular Assist Device (RVAD).

This accomplished the expected unloading and the patient was stabilized and weaned from bypass. He was transferred to ICU with an open chest, right and left VAD plus IABP.

Ric took the night shift, monitoring the patient along with his attending machinery in ICU. On 17 January 1994, at 4:30:55AM, the Northridge earthquake began.

The earthquake had a duration of approximately 10-20 seconds. The blind thrust earthquake had a moment magnitude of 6.7 (if you have lived in Southern California for any period of time, you become familiar with the vernacular). The earthquake produced a ground acceleration that was the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North American, measuring 1.8G, with strong ground motion felt as far away as Las Vegas, 220 miles from the epicenter.

The epicenter for the Northridge quake was literally walking distance from the hospital. The building began to shake violently, with mainly its movement going vertical.

The analogy that has been used for blind thrust quakes is that it’s like the effect of a bullwhip creating a sonic boom. The epicenter is the handle with energy traveling out to the tip. The “tip” in this case was fifteen miles out, where substantial damage occurred.

In the Intensive Care Unit at Northridge, along with most of Southern California, main electrical power went out. The IABP as one console, the BIVAD’s as another console…and the patient…all bounced in separate directions. The room without power, was rendered completely black…absolutely no visual cues. The ceiling tiles, along with the light fixtures, began to fall…along with thirty years of accumulated dust from the ceiling. Glass windows and partitions shattered. Monitors and televisions fell from their wall or ceiling mounts. Remember, this was well before flat screens.

Electrical power from the emergency generators came on, albeit, with a forty-five second lag, which felt like an eternity. Occasional “power outages” from the emergency generators would occur over the next six days. As mandated by California Code, although I believe this mandate is now nationwide, all equipment deemed necessary must be plugged into outlets marked with a “red dot” denoting it is attached to the emergency generator.

There were several thousand aftershocks in the ensuing days, some as great as 6 or better. The death toll came to 57 with more than 8,700 injured.

Ric had called me to see if I would cover call prior to the earthquake. I lived in Santa Monica and since Ric and I knew each other for over 20 years, I would occasionally cover call for him on the weekends.

For the first time in my life, traveling the 405 freeway North to Northridge was totally desolate and very surreal. The only other time I remember that feeling was the day of September 11, 2001.

Getting off the freeway at Roscoe Blvd felt like a scene from “War of the Worlds”. Water pipes that burst flooded the street while gas mains that exploded caused flames to shoot up through the water. Mix in the retirement homes that were struggling to move patients out on the street while the flooding and fires raged…and I thought of that line from “Airplane”: “I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue”.

When I arrived at the hospital, my first visual was that the building pancaked onto the first floor Emergency Room. As a result, they were triaging hundreds of patients in the parking lot. Little did I know that I would not go home for four days.

The CEO of Northridge was a true visionary. When plans had been drawn up for a new wing of the hospital, he insisted that the new wing be on rollers. Structures hoping to survive an earthquake require mobility and flex. If it’s rigid, a quake will destroy it. The hospital was designed so the new wing would separate from the old…and it did…by over 4 feet. The only problem was the old wing contained the operating rooms and the new wing contained ICU. We had to place plywood boards for our makeshift floor. Ever wonder how much an ICU bed with patient, anesthesia, nurse and you weigh? Crossing 4 feet of plywood flooring two stories up? We will tell you collectively, with each crossing, we all felt it did wonders for our sphincter tone.

And, the coup de grâce: Our patient was weaned successfully from the IABP and the BIVAD’s and extubated. He reached a point where he was wide awake and lucid and could sit in the ICU chair for extended periods of time. During one of these relaxing periods in the chair, his implanted pacemaker created a dysrhythmia, causing him to arrest…and he expired.

Please conduct and practice “what if” scenarios for anything your geographic locale could throw at you. You will never regret it.

“It is no small thing to stop a beating heart”


Today in Earthquake History

Sixty people were killed, more than 7,000 injured, 20,000 homeless and more than 40,000 buildings damaged in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Severe damage occurred in the San Fernando Valley: maximum intensities of (IX) were observed in and near Northridge and in Sherman Oaks. Lesser, but still significant damage occurred at Fillmore, Glendale, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Simi Valley and in western and central Los Angeles. Damage was also sustained to Anaheim Stadium. Collapsed overpasses closed sections of the Santa Monica Freeway, the Antelope Valley Freeway, the Simi Valley Freeway and the Golden State Freeway.


Seismic Waves: Northridge Earthquake - 1994

At 4:30 a.m. on January 17, 1994, the shaking of an earthquake awakened 10 million people in the Los Angeles region of Southern California. The earthquake's epicenter was in Northridge, CA, and it was a magnitude 6.7 shock that proved to be the most costly earthquake in United States history. The shaking heavily damaged communities throughout the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley, and the surrounding mountains north and west of Los Angeles, causing estimated losses of $20 billion. Fifty-seven people died, more than 9,000 were injured, and more than 20,000 were displaced from their homes by the effects of the quake.

When an earthquake occurs, rock is fractured. This fracturing causes nearby rock to move, producing waves that travel through and across the world. There are three main types of seismic waves: P (Primary), S (Secondary), and surface waves. The P-waves are characterized by particle motion in the direction of the wave's propagation. S-waves, on the other hand, produce particle motion at right-angles to the propagation direction. Surface waves, as their name implies, travel over the surface of Earth.

The dataset includes a PIP that shows what is going on inside Earth as the waves propagate from the point of origin. This origin is called the hypocenter, while the area on the surface of Earth directly above the hypocenter is called the epicenter. The interior of Earth has three regions under the crust: the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. These regions were discovered through the study of seismic waves, which travel through the interior of Earth and arrive at seismic stations around the world.

S-waves can only travel in a solid, so as an S-wave arrives at the core-mantle boundary, it is reflected back into the mantle as both an S-wave and a P-wave. In addition, some of the energy continues into the outer core as only a P-wave. This is because the outer core is a liquid made of mostly of molten iron. The inner core is also mostly iron, but is solid due to the higher pressures. Therefore, both P-waves and S-waves can propagate through the inner core.


20th Anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake

The 6.7-magnitude Northridge Earthquake occurred at 4:31am on Monday, January 17, 1994. Its epicenter was around Wilbur Avenue and Arminta Street in Northridge, about a mile from campus. The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks caused extensive destruction to the Northridge and Sherman Oaks areas. Numerous buildings on the California State University, Northridge campus sustained severe damage, including the library. A second library building on campus, known as the South Library, was so badly damaged it was condemned and slated for demolition after the quake. CSUN's digitized University Archives include numerous photographs, reports, memoranda, artifacts, and ephemera documenting the earthquake and its aftermath, including a brick from the demolished South Library, pictured here.

CSUN's faculty, staff, and students pulled together in the earthquake's aftermath in order to keep the campus operating. In an era before widespread internet use, signs were posted on major roads encouraging students and others to call a phone number for up-to-date information. Staff and faculty worked out of tents that served as temporary offices and information centers on campus, and managed to get the Spring 1994 semester started just two weeks later than originally planned. Other universities in the area also offered support, and in February 1994 students returned to a campus still filled with emergency and construction workers to attend classes in trailers and tents.

In the library, 90% of the books in the stacks were dumped onto the floor because of the earthquake's up-and-down and side-to-side motion, though much of the braced and reinforced shelving remained standing. For the Spring 1994 semester, a 10,000 square foot tent, called the Lindley Library Dome, doubled as a temporary study area and housing for fine arts collections, instructional materials, and microforms.

The library core, a concrete structure built in the early 1970s, was damaged in the quake but restored for service by the fall of 1994. The east and west wings, completed just three years prior to the earthquake, were initially to be saved and renovated, as well. Subsequent aftershocks caused irreparable damage and they ultimately had to be demolished and rebuilt before full service was restored in the fall of 2000.

On January 15, 1995, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 1994 earthquake, President Bill Clinton visited and spoke on campus. Praising his administration's efforts to facilitate the recovery, Clinton stated, "I said that we wouldn't let you pick up the pieces alone, that we would stay on until the job is done. Twenty-seven federal agencies worked with state and local officials in unprecedented ways and this was the most efficient and effective disaster operation in American history. [CSUN] is a symbol of the ability of the people of this state to keep coming back (following) adversity after adversity."


25th Anniversary of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake

The 6.7-magnitude Northridge Earthquake occurred at 4:31 am on Monday, January 17, 1994. Its epicenter was around Wilbur Avenue and Arminta Street in Northridge, about a mile from campus. The earthquake and subsequent aftershocks caused extensive destruction to the Northridge and Sherman Oaks areas. Numerous buildings on the CSUN campus sustained severe damage, including the Oviatt Library. A second library building on campus, known as the South Library, was so badly damaged it was condemned and slated for demolition after the quake.

CSUN parking structure on Zelzah, just south of the tennis courts. View Northridge Earthquake Photo Collection record

CSUN's faculty, staff, and students pulled together in the earthquake's aftermath in order to keep the campus operating. In an era before social media, signs were posted on major roads encouraging students and others to call a phone number for up-to-date information. Staff and faculty worked out of tents that served as temporary offices and information centers on campus, and managed to get the Spring 1994 semester started just two weeks later than originally planned. Other universities in the area also offered support, and in February 1994 students returned to a campus still filled with emergency and construction workers to attend classes in trailers and tents.

In the Oviatt Library, 90% of the books in the stacks were dumped onto the floor because of the earthquake's up-and-down and side-to-side motion, though much of the braced and reinforced shelving remained standing. For the Spring 1994 semester, a 10,000 square foot tent, called the Lindley Library Dome, doubled as a temporary study area and housing for fine arts collections, instructional materials, and microforms.

The Oviatt Library core, a concrete structure built in the early 1970s, was damaged in the quake but restored for service by the fall of 1994. The Oviatt's east and west wings, completed just three years prior to the earthquake, were initially to be saved and renovated, as well. Subsequent aftershocks caused irreparable damage and they ultimately had to be demolished and rebuilt before full service was restored in the fall of 2000.

On January 15, 1995, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 1994 earthquake, President Bill Clinton visited and spoke on campus. Praising his administration's efforts to facilitate the recovery, Clinton stated, "I said that we wouldn't let you pick up the pieces alone, that we would stay on until the job is done. Twenty-seven federal agencies worked with state and local officials in unprecedented ways and this was the most efficient and effective disaster operation in American history. [CSUN] is a symbol of the ability of the people of this state to keep coming back (following) adversity after adversity."

Special Collections & Archives as well as the Digital Collections retain photographs, reports, memoranda, artifacts, and ephemera documenting the earthquake and its aftermath:


Watch the video: Northridge Earthquake, January 17, 1994 Volume 1 of 2 (August 2022).