As we’ve pointed out many times before, a powerful earthquake hammering California is a geological inevitability. In the coming decades, a magnitude 7.1 or 7.3 earthquake – similar to the deadly quake that rattled central Mexico last year – would almost certainly strike a densely populated part of the state (the San Andreas fault runs through most of California, as the map below shows), potentially leading to tens if not hundreds of thousands of casualties. The local economy would lie in ruins and it would take years to for the area to recover.
With this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise that government agencies, businesses and other organizations in Arizona have recognized the need to prepare. To wit, the Associated Press reports that local organizations are participate in an exercise to practice how the state would respond to a migration of 400,000 people after a catastrophic earthquake in Southern California.
The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs said participants in the National Mass Care Exercise will learn how to provide food, shelter and medical services in an emergency scenario. Planning for the exercise has been underway for nearly a year, the department said.
Many county, tribal and municipal emergency operations centers will practice taking in thousands of refugees during the exercise, as procedures and staff training are tested.
Aside from the wildfires that have ravaged California, both the northern and southern parts of the state have been hit by a series of smaller quakes in recent months.
However, the earthquake situation in California is actually more dire than most people realize. Although most Californians have experienced a small quake, most have never personally experienced a strong one. For major events, with magnitudes of 7 or greater, California is actually in an earthquake drought. Multiple segments of the expansive San Andreas Fault system are now sufficiently stressed to produce large and damaging events.