Nineteen years after the deadly Northridge earthquake killed 60 people and left thousands homeless, Southern Californians are still not prepared for disaster.
The magnitude 6.7 quake, which hit before dawn on Jan. 17, 1994, caused damage far beyond its San Fernando Valley epicenter.
Out of sheer luck, officials say, the temblor took place early, and on the Martin Luther King holiday, when fewer people were on the streets and in office buildings. But it was still a massive test of the region’s emergency systems.
Gas lines burst into flames and an apartment building near the epicenter crumbled. People crept from well-kept Valley ranch homes over floors littered with shards of glass and pieces of broken appliances and household items.
One freeway cracked in half and another fell. Water leaked from the ceilings of office buildings. Traffic signals were out for days.
City parks became tent cities as families sought shelter in temporary structures.
Earthquake scientists have said repeatedly in the years since Northridge that the region is overdue for another, perhaps bigger, temblor.
Yet Southern Californians remain woefully unprepared, officials say.
Few stock a week’s worth of water and other supplies, as recommended, and many are lax about securing heavy objects – like today’s massive television sets – so that they don’t fall.
Where were you during the Northridge Quake? And what have you done to prepare? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section and on our Facebook page.