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tv   Beyond the Headlines  ABC  May 15, 2011 10:00am-10:30am PDT

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welcome to beyond the headlines, i'm cheryl jennings. every week we focus on a different topic affecting people that live in the bay area. today we're talking about earthquake preparedness. recent disasters in japan and
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chile serve as reminders that we could be next. being prepared is the best plan for all of us. berkeley researchers went to japan for nine it is to study the impact that happened march 11th and they released preliminary findings. laura anthony brings thus report. >> reporter: with waves up to 35 the tsunami caused 90% of the deaths and most of the serious damage during the march suth earthquake. >> the tsunami is the real story being the real story. >> they found damage to buildings was minor and there was surprisingly little structural damage. >> some of the high-tech industries, the building might have been done very well, the
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contents was knocked on out the service. >> much of the damage was the result of liquefaction. it could play a role in the bay area. >> there is a lot of soil near the water and lots of damage on the same site of japan so we're going to learn a lot from that information. >> most levees stood up well, damage to other types of infrastructure was widespread. 3500 highways and dozens of bridges were destroyed. 16 conventional power plants and 12 nuclear power plants were damaged including fukushima daiichi. >> important rail lines and 45% of the fishing ports were devastated and there was discovery damage to water systems. much of that was repaired within a month of the quake. >> researchers also are looking at damage to the psyche of the
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japanese people who are calling the march earthquake 3/11. >> going us right now on the science of earthquake is geophysicist justin reubenstein. liquefaction it was a major factor in 1989. >> liquefaction is a situation where you looking at soft soils. what happens is it's subjected to strong shaking it loses some of the cohesive strength and begins to act more like a liquid as opposed to a solid. what that means for construction purposes, in extreme cases this structures can fall over. the marina district in particular, most of the damage was related to liquefaction in the '89 earthquake. >> are there other problems in
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the bay area? >> pretty much anywhere along the bay front, is built on landfill. when you got reclaimed land you are building on soft soil. so the real risk in those areas. >> and in japan, horrible quake and tsunami there, what did we learn from that defect? >>inly certainly japanese earthe was a great tragedy with hundreds of thousands of lives lost but in some respects it was a greater success. it really showed that proper preparation for earthquakes can really save a lot of lives. most of the damage, most of deaths really came from the tsunami, but if you look at the buildings and infrastructure there wasn't a lot of damage. so what it shows with proper preparation, with proper engineering, many of things can be mitigated. >> how are we doing so far? >> i think it's a work this
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progress. i heard on the radio today something we need to work on is the soft soil buildings, where you have an empty region and it's not as supportive. this is a work in progress. we see with the bay bridge, this is something we're working on. >> you say soft soiled is you mean a parking lot underneath? >> or a shop that you don't have a lot of support columns that is actually holding the building up. >> let's talk about the earthquakes, we brush them those off, but what is important for us to know about? >> microearthquakes are usefuling as to to study earthquakes because they are much more frequent than their bigger cousins. there sloot more things we can do because they are regular. for example, examining the idea that the longer earthquake the bigger it's going to be but when
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you are looking at big earthquakes that happen every 50 years, hundred years, there is not a lot you can do with it. but when you look at smaller earthquakes every two years, every year you can do statistics with it. we have shown that earthquakes gets bigger the longer doesn't appear to be true. >> we have a lot more to talk about. stay right there. we do have to take a quick break and we'll ta about more.
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new cinnamon burst cheerios. prepare your taste buds. welcome back to beyond the headlines, i'm cheryl jennings, scientists and engineers say there is a 63% chance of 6.7 quake happening here in the next 30 years. so how big is a 6.7? that was the strength of north ridge quake. mark matthews spoke with experts for more details. >> reporter: 1989 earthquake was 6.9, they expect 6.7 in the next 30 years and if it happens on this fault, it could be as strong as 7.8 quake in 1906. >> there would be tens of thousands of buildings badly damaged, franciscans00,000 san s that would not be able to return
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to their homes. >> a geotechnical engineer finished a study. the city he says is particularly vulnerable. >> in san francisco the characteristic weakness is that the ground where there is parking or businesses is weaker than the floors above. >> the study warns the stid that 90% of the buildings are residential where most of the risk exists. bay area other major fault is the hayward which lies directly bemeeth the most densely populated part of the east bay. >> it would be very big earthquake, strong shaking. >> they say the hayward fault is capable of 7.3 and is overdue. on average, it has a major shift every 140 years. it's been 143 since the last one. an associate professor of architect if you are at u.c. berkeley, especially at this is
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construction practices and she says the city of berkeley has done a good job of giving homeowners incentives to get prepared. >> to bolted their foundation down, to put in shear walls and stiffen up the chimney. >> but many other communities have put offesult >> the result is if we had a major seismic event we have less confident that our buildings would be able to shelter us. >> we are back in the studio with justin reubenstein, a geo physicist, we were talking about microquakes that a lot of those are pretty good thing? >> in the grand scheme of things it doesn't mean a whole lot. if you look at magnitude 3 earthquake, to think about it in terms of magnitude 5, would you need a thousand of them to relieve the same amount of stress. in magnitude 7 you're going to need a million. so they aren't really doing a
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whole lot in reducing the stress >> we were watching the story, hayward fault, it's a scary fault, you said? >> it is a scary fault. the usgs estimate in the next 30 years, we have a good chance of 7.0 it'slarger and it's running through berkeley and large cities it's a potential source of damage. >>. >> a way to predict these quakes right now? >> right now there is no way to predict earthquakes as far as preparing for earthquakes and something that is called earthquake early warning. something that japanese has developed. california is moving in that direction both the usgs and number of our partners, what early earthquake warning is a system we can detect the waves that are coming faster that don't do any damage and we can
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detected how big an earthquake it is so we can send out information there is a big earthquake. we can use that information to prepare. now, what the japanese did in recent magnitude earthquake, they were able to stop high speed trains, they were able to stop surgeries so people can get help. there is a lot of things you can do with this information. >> so it's great to educate us about this. >> all right. we do have to take a break again. coming up temporary news about the structural safety of california schools. we'll be right back.
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welcome back to beyond the headlines. today we're talking about earthquake safety and preparedness. thousands of schools across the state are not meeting man dade safety standards. they document series lapses that may put your kids in danger during a major quake. dan noyes filed this report. >> in this small town of pescadero they have trying to track down answers. >> i've never done investigation work. >> to find out whether his son's school would be safe in an
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earthquake. >> under a state law known as the field act all schools must be earthquake resistant. 70 schools in long beach earthquake, 120 people died. structural work at the high school had been done without the state's approval. >> that is when the light bulb went on and you begin to realize there are thousands of projects. >> and it turns out they are right. a yearlong investigation thousands of school construction projects completed statewide don't complete with the field act. california division of state architects, agency in charge of enforcing the law has never approved those projects as safe. >> there is upwards to 20,000 school projects that do not conform to these field
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standards. >> and not just in small districts like pescadero. los angeles unified school district finished this middle school six years ago and state windows that huge window walls may not be properly anchored and could pose a risk to students in a quake. when they went to asking district officials for answers. >> it's not a perfect system in any part. they concede that thousands of school projects lack state certification. a spokesman claims most are simply missing paperwork. >> at this point we don't believe that any of those projects pose a significant threat. >> but some experts like earthquake consultant are not convinced. >> obviously the system is not doing their job.
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>> some school projects were being completed without adequate oversight. sometimes with dangerous construction flaws. >> what that tells me, that we're building school in california they are not properly designed and checked in the field to make sure they are properly built. that is a problem. >> back in 2002, the desa prepared aless of schools -- a list of schools likely not to perform an earthquake. nine years later, california watch found most had been unrepaired not repaired. >> priority has to be answering the questions are the schools truly safe. >> they brought the findings to ellen core bet. >> i think we should be doing everything we can to make sure the laws are placed on books are enforced. >> she shares the earthquake and
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preparedness committee. >> we need to find the problems where they are and do something about it. >> los angeles unified school district contains that the middle school was made to state standards. buked on th inspector who worked on the job says the district knees to tear open the walls to verify that proper construction was done. you can read more on our website at >> in the studio is former fire chief for half moon bay who is with the san mateo office of emergency services. jim, we were watching that story and it's veryarming alarming toe that. what can they do if you are in school during an earthquake? >> best thing they can do is get down underneath their desk and ride out the quake.
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most of injuries that happen in earthquake is more often from non-structural items landing on people. >> debris? >> breaking glass from windows and things coming off cabinets and pictures coming off of walls. if people can cover their heads and protect themselves in that manner i it would save a lot of injuries. >> iered something about triangle of safety during an earthquake? >> triangle of life. this topic comes up. it's one of those internet things you start getting a major disaster anywhere in the world. it came up recently after the incident in japan and what it says in structures, there are these safety areaslar safety ar, next to walls and next to heavy furniture and what not. people should try to get into those and curl up into a ball,
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in a fetal position that is safest spot. there is probably some truth to that, but in california are frame construction, they are not going to pancake down like a big building and in effect, we tell people they would do much better get down quickly and cover your head from the flying debris. >> standing in the doorway? >> there may be some safety in that. there still could be debris falling. you have to think back to some of the video that was caught during the loma prieta earthquake, i remember a couple of shots one was in a restaurant or bar when the building became to shake and everything came flying off the shelf, so all the bottles and classes and another was a school gym and physical thing happened the lights started to drop.
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building did not collapse but the non-structural components in the building started coming down. >> we're going to take pa break because we have a lot more to talk about. we have details about a major effort to protect our local water supply in the event of a major earthquake. that and more when we come back. can i eat heart healthy without giving up taste? a man can only try... and try...and try. [ male announcer ] honey nut cheerios tastes great and cahelp lower cholesterol. bee happy. bee healy. ♪ to cinnamon. td introducg cinnamon burst cheerios. 20% day value of fiber
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♪ [ female announcer ] the yoplait you love, now in a 4-pack. try it today. welcome back. a major construction project got underway that will protect the water supply for millions of residents. 19 miles of pipeline to make sure they withstand the next big quake. here is the report. >> the water first flowed into crystal spring reservoir 77 years ago but the age and the facilities sit or near the fault has been a worry. so at $320 million upgrade project is under way. >> the goal is within 24 hours of a major earthquake we have
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water flowing. >> a new pipeline going up the peninsula to san francisco will replace on built in the 1930s. there will be improvements to a water treatment plant west of millbrae and to the transmission system. >> without these projects, a major earthquake on any one of the bay area faults could put large portions without water for 30 to 60 days. our communities won't survive for 30 to 60 days. >> the crystal spring dams built in 1890 has been declared safe by engineers but it, too, will have some work done to prevent flooding. >> what we need to do is called a hydraulic improvement to allow us to safely contain a large flood event within the spill way and safely direct water into san mateo creek. >> two-thirds of customers live outside of san francisco so they will pay two-thirds of the construction costs. a typical residents pays $54 a month and $22 covers
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construction projects and projected water bills $91 a month. >> the scope this project is amazing. it's the structure that covers the intake pipe and takes it to the water treatment plant. as part of the construction project this eventually will be submerged underwater. >> these new projects will take four years to complete. david louie, "abc 7 news." back in the studio with jim from the emergency office emergency services. >> do they have a earthquake system? >> we do have a text messaging system where we can give you specific information after an earthquake or possibly something we have a warning for hand is smcalert .info.
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we will send a message to your cellphone or e-mail. >> preparations, so what can we do to prepare? >> the information is throughout but in a nutshell, everybody should have a kit that includes a battery, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, fire extinguisher and a wrench to turn off your gas meter. also you should food and water on hand. non-perishable food. canned food. make sure you have a can opener and a gallon of water per person per day. the is is three days, 72 hours, our office recommends at least a week. >> it's recommended that every six months you change out the water. >> what is the most important thing for families? >> any family is having a communication plan or having a family plan.
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you get spread out, people at work, people at school. something happens it an earthquake or any other type of disaster. first thing you want to do is know everybody is going to okay. we've been telling people for years, don't use your telephone in an emergency and that still goes because you'll overload the system. people will make calls. say i have to say, very quick call versus calling, just to say did you feel the earthquake, no calls will go through. here the important point. when we have a cell systems when they have gotten overloaded, even though you couldn't get a voice call, a text message would go through. >> good to know. >> that was an interesting point and one to remember and plan "b" what happens if the cell towers are down and they tie into the land line telephones. they could go down, too.
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so you should have a plan if there are no phones available. a meeting place. >> we'll go with that information. unfortunately we are out of time. we do want to thank our guests for joining us. that is it for this edition of beyond the headlines. more available on our website at all you have to do is click on the community page. if you are looking for community resources in your neighborhood dial 211 for help. i'm cheryl jennings, thanks so much for joining us. we'll see you next time. male a] using frontline plus
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