Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
California sustains more than 30 earthquakes a day. Image provided by

by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 11/2008

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake WILL hit southern California. Will you be ready?

When, not if, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hits Southern California, residents can face a level of destruction and chaos from which the region might never recover OR preparations now can mitigate the disaster and ensure the area’s continued viability.

This is the premise behind the Great Southern California ShakeOut and corresponding Golden Guardian 2008, both of which are occurring simultaneously, along with the three-day City of Los Angeles International Earthquake Conference.
The ShakeOut is a week-long series of events for the public, culminating in a rally/information fair on November 14 from 4–9 p.m. at Nokia Plaza L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles. More than 4 million people have signed onto the website, pledging to participate in a “Drop, Cover and Hold” drill at 10 a.m. on November 13.

The Golden Guardian Statewide Exercise Series, the nation's largest state-sponsored emergency preparedness exercise, is an ongoing annual event. It comprises a series of seminars, discussion-based tabletop exercises and drills, ending with a full scale event designed to test the State’s emergency capabilities to deter, prevent, respond and recover from a catastrophic natural disaster or potential terrorist attack.
Begun in 2004 as a federal/state and local exercise which activated State emergency resources, the Golden Guardian Exercise Series is mandated and funded under federal Department of Homeland Security guidelines.

Golden Guardian 2008 focuses on a simulated catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault, ranging from the Salton Sea in Riverside County to Northern Los Angeles County. Seven southern California counties are participating in this main event, as well the State Operations Center in Sacramento.

This earthquake scenario and accompanying impacts were not just pulled out of a hat; they are based on the intensive research and conclusions of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with input from numerous other agencies. Among their predictions: 1,800 deaths; 50,000 injuries; 270,000 persons displaced; significant damage to 300,000 buildings and widespread infrastructure damage; total damage--$213 billion.

For many first responders, this scenario will become extremely real during the Golden Guardian exercise on November 13. At 10 a.m., Caltrans will activate our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and begin to test all emergency response systems, said Maintenance Manager Alphonso Sanchez. Throughout the day, those involved in the exercise will be in constant communication with other agencies, exactly as they would if this were a real earthquake.

Among the systems that will be tested are equipment and personnel, planning and intelligence (closures, detours, etc.), logistics, finance, public information and safety. “We will mobilize resources to an extent not seen since the Northridge earthquake,” Sanchez said. “This is the biggest emergency exercise in history.”

At some point during the day, employees will be tested as well. How? Stay tuned and all will be revealed on November 13. And be sure to read Inside 7 next month for an update on exactly how we came through The Big One.




A 7.8 magnitude earthquake would create a 180-mile rupture and cause shaking of up to two minutes in many places. Image provided by The Northridge earthquake only caused shaking of 7-15 seconds. Image provided by Damaging earthquakes could occur for decades after a magnitude 7.8 quake. Image provided by Some of us may remember Duck and Cover drills from elementary school. Image provided by