Everyone always talks about earthquakes but no one ever does anything about ’em. I said that and Mark Twain didn’t. It’s a simple fact of life here on the San Andreas fault system which runs right through San Francisco and on along the San Francisco Bay. Here in Berkeley we are probably out of the worst of the disaster from that monster but we have its evil twin the Hayward Fault conjoined down south of San Jose which is also capable of major quakes. For some 60 miles the Hayward fault runs right through heavily populated fully built up cities like Oakland and Berkeley at the north end and San Jose and Fremont at its southern end and of course Hayward in its middle.
When the Hayward Fault pops again with the same energy as its 1868 quake there will be massive causalities and when it happens again during the long dry summers usually here there will be great fires and the destruction and death will be even worse. The United States Geological Service (USGS) has an excellent site showing many approaches to this Hayward Fault problem. It is generally acknowledged by the geologists that the Hayward has a major quake every 150 years or so. Being beyond the life history of people, coupled even with their grandparents’ stories, this serious and recurrent problem becomes only textbook myth. But when you view things as I like to do, on a 12,000 year modern civilization human scale, the seriousness of the problem becomes more apparent. 12,000 years divided by 150 years becomes 80 major earthquakes in this now heavily populated area since civilization got started. People usually talk about the Big One in the singular and that is okay in the personal sense but my longer view makes a more human sense to me because we are talking about a population problem more than a personal one.
This is a good basic plan but I would like to add one thing—to prevent small fires in the cities from becoming big fires because with these disasters the fire afterwords will probably be more devastating than the quake itself. Every city along a known earthquake fault is at great risk of catastrophic fire after an earthquake and because almost all big fires begin as little fires it makes sense to have in place the ability for people to extinguish these small fires.
If every residence had a standard 5 gallon closed top bucket filled with water it would be readily available and easy for small fires to be put out. Furthermore if everyone had one of these water filled buckets and a fire got larger each person could pick up their bucket and start walking toward any fire they saw. People carrying buckets toward a fire from every direction would be enough to put out a large fire or at least contain it and prevent it from spreading. Nowadays these 5 gallon buckets are usually discarded after what ever was sold in them is used up so it should be possible for a city of 100,000 people like Berkeley to get all the buckets they need from some recyclers for very little outlay of money. It will eventually save the city. This particular city has already experienced several conflagrations and yet there is no plan in place for coping with quake driven fires other than the standard fire department. Unfortunately thay will probably be overwhelmed by the quake itself and be unable to respond to many fires and the bucket brigade would save the day and the city.