Earthquakes are a continual feature of living in the Bay Area, according to Dr. Richard Andrews, deputy director for the Governor’s office of emergency services in Southern California.
Andrews, who said the Bay Area is dotted by faults, was one of 11 speakers who addressed more than 500 people at the San Francisco Bay Area Business, Government and Red Cross Disaster Conference held April 11 in San Mateo’s Dunfey Hotel.
Officials responsible for emergency procedures at Chevron, Bank of America, Safeway, Kaiser, Levi Strauss, Hewlett-Packard, Pacific Bell, Chlorox, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the California State Automobile Association and other corporations gathered to discuss how prior planning can prevent deaths and reduce capital loss in a major earthquake.
“You can in fact impact your business, your own family and personal survival and your community by your behavior,” said Ed Bortugno, geologist for the Bay Area Earthquake Preparedness Project.
Mike McGroarty, battalion chief for the La Habra FireDepartment who assisted with rescue efforts following the Dec.7 earthquake in Soviet Armenia, said one reason “there was a whole lot of destruction” in Armenia was that people were ill-prepared to handle the magnitude of the emergency. McGroarty said Moscow residents were trained in earthquake preparedness, but people in outlying areas such as Leninakan, which was hardest hit in December, had no emergency training.
It can take professional rescuers 24-72 hours to organize and begin to look for live victims, but it can take longer to reach people living or working in the suburbs. For this reason, McGroarty said 85 percent of live victims were rescued by coworkers, neighbors, friends, family members or bystanders. When employees and citizens receive prior training, the odds of finding survivors and containing damage improve significantly.
In the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, damage increased exponentially as a result of fires that rifled through the city following the aftershocks. Part of adequate disaster response is knowing how to shut down gas and electrical operations that can become hazardous in emergency situations.
“Having a good fire extinguisher and knowing how to use it can be very valuable to your survival in an earthquake,” said Pete Ashen, director of emergency services for the Golden Gate Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We all know that in 1906 more damage was done by the fire than the quake.”
Ashen recommends that every business prepare an emergency plan and practice implementing its procedures prior to a disaster.
“If you haven’t thought out something fairly clearly before the earthquake when you are calm, it will never work,” Bortugno said.
A disaster plan should be readily accessible and in plain view, according to Bill Sambito, staff manager of emergency services for Pacific Bell in San Ramon. “It should be the first thing that falls off the shelf and hits us in an earthquake,” Sambito said.
"It’s not only important to know where it’s located, it’s also imperative to know what’s in it," said Judy Bell, of Disaster Survival Planning in Glendale. "When a major disaster strikes, there won’t be time to sit down and review the plan."
Bell, who helped restore a telephone network following the 5.9 Whittier Narrows Earthquake, said it is a natural reaction for people to want to evacuate their buildings during an earthquake. Even after tremors subside, many people refuse to return to their buildings until after building inspectors investigate the damage.
"If the damage in outlying areas is unknown, employees who can’t reach their families request to leave. Many of these people may be key to the recovery efforts," Bell said.
When an earthquake strikes, it’s important for a take-charge individual to know how to mobilize recovery efforts. It should be known who has special skills, such as cardiopulomonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid, that can be used to assist the injured.
McGroarty recommends training as many employees as possible in CPR, first aid and rescue services. “The more proactive a business is with preparing for an emergency, the more quickly it is going to recover,”McGroarty said. “Those that are prepared will get back on their feet faster and lose revenues for a shorter period of time.”
Although based in Southern California, McGroarty travels throughout the state to teach classes and hold seminars in light search and rescue. Courses in CPR, first aid and earthquake preparedness are offered on a regular basis at five Bay Area Red Cross chapters, and the Red Cross Workplace Programs Division offers on-site instruction to businesses and industries interested in educating their employees.
In addition to the semi-annual Bay area Disaster Conference, which will be held again in October, the Red Cross in San Francisco maintains a disaster library that provides businesses with guidance in developing a disaster plan.
This article written by Laury Masher, Admn. E&S, American Red Cross.
This article adapted from Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 20.
There are two kinds of hazards during an earthquake - natural and man-made. In the Midwest, natural hazards include ground- shaking; cracks and uplifts; liquefaction, which is a process of firm soil becoming a viscous semi-liquid that resembles quicksand or thick molasses and causes landslides, mud flows, and sand blows; subsidence, which occurs when ground-shaking compacts soil particles and causes the surface to settle or sink; and seiches.
Man-made hazards include damage to buildings, bridges, and other structures; dam failures; gas-pipeline breaks; falling and overturning objects inside and outside buildings; disruption of transportation, communication, power, water supply, and sewer systems; and radiation leaks from nuclear reactors.
Owing to the nature of the sandy soils in southeast Missouri, geologists believe that one of the most serious potential hazards in the New Madrid Seismic Zone is liquefaction. When a soil layer liquefies and begins to flow, internal pressures force water and sand to the surface, which causes flooding and heavy deposits of sand called sand blows. Liquefaction also causes major landslides.
You can experience the sensation of liquefaction by standing on a wet, sandy beach. If you wiggle your feet or move your body rapidly without jumping, you will see water rise to the surface as your feet sink deeper into the sand.
Wet, sandy soils in major river valleys are the regions most prone to liquefaction. Areas near the Mississippi River and its major tributaries should therefore be of special concern for developers, engineers, and landowners. Buildings and homes have been moved hundreds of yards during landslides.
People can spend months, even years, rebuilding after a quake of the size that rocked southern California in January. Just five miles from the quake's epicenter, though, one business was back on its feet in just days. That made a world of difference to the thousands of people who count on it everyday.
At 4:31 a.m. on Monday, January 17, Bob Steinbach, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety, was asleep at his home in the suburban city of Lomita.
At 4:32 a.m. he was on the floor of his bedroom, thrown out of bed by one of the worst earthquakes ever to hit Southern California -- and for the next several weeks his job became one of the most crucial as teams of disaster experts worked to help the shaken city piece itself back together.
Most companies have some sort of disaster contingency plans in place. They know that if something should go wrong they can turn to an alternative work site to keep things up and running. But even the best laid plans are just that—plans. Even though you may test your alternatives, you really never know how they are going to work until disaster actually strikes.
On January 17, 1994, when an earthquake rumbled through Southern California, companies had the chance to implement their contingency plans. But no matter how well prepared they thought they were, they weren’t.
No one could have predicted the amount of structural damage that occurred. Buildings that were built “up to code” were no longer inhabitable and freeways that were supposed to withstand earthquakes of much greater magnitudes buckled and collapsed under the intense shaking.
It was the structural damage that caused many of the problems for most businesses. The Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell International sustained some major damage. Located in Canoga Park, Calif., just two miles from the quake’s epicenter, Rocketdyne is expected to be a major contributor to America’s Space Station Freedom when it becomes operational in the late 1990s.
Three computer labs supporting the space station program received the brunt of the damage. Over 70 pieces of computer equipment were involved from desktop computers, modems, printers and other miscellaneous peripherals to Digital Equipment Corporation VAX mainframes.
At daybreak, Ken Tcheng, manager of technical management information systems and his staff ventured to Rockwell to access damage. Not sure if the building was safe, they slowly made their way in to find that the quake caused a water pipe to burst on the floor above the computer labs. Knowing they didn’t have a lot of time, they quickly shut the computer system down and cut the circuit breakers to prevent any power surges when electricity was restored before leaving the premises.
Then the wait began. Rockwell had to wait for three days and numerous aftershocks until the building inspectors deemed the building safe. When they finally entered, they discovered an even bigger watery mess. The room was flooded with water under the floor and moisture and dust were in the air. To top it off, both the shaking and the weight of the water above had caused the ceiling tiles to fall.
Rockwell quickly sprang into action. Once they knew a back-up was up and running, the next step was to contact the VAX vendor and have them come out to access it.
"We arrived at the site to find it pretty much as they described it—very wet and very dusty. We knew right away that we needed a restoration team to save the equipment. We contacted the local Southern California restoration office," said Chuck Rabe, a VAX environmental support specialist.
The local restoration team arrived at the site. Before even beginning to look at the equipment, the team advised Rocketdyne to turn on the heating system and/or dehumidifiers to help stop any further corrosion. "First and foremost we want to control the environment as soon as possible," explained Mark Fritz, a restoration district manager. "That meant starting with the temperature and humidity. It also meant disposing of any standing water and moisture on the walls as well as throwing out all the damaged ceiling tiles."
After assessing the damage, Rocketdyne was presented with a complete restoration plan which included disassembling the computers, peripherals and all the other electronic equipment, restoration and decontamination, and reassembly. Everything in the computer lab had to be recovered due to moisture damage. It was estimated that the entire job would, at the most, take three days.
Once the moisture was controlled and the debris removed, the next step was to tackle the equipment. Fifteen restoration specialists from all over the country worked hand-in-hand with VAX technicians and Rocketdyne engineers headed by Dana Bowdish. In two days, the restoration part of the recovery was done.
The VAX systems were brought back on-line, prepared for some system failures. A huge sigh of relief could be heard when the computers operated flawlessly. No data had been lost.
On January 27, 10 days after the initial jolt, Rockwell International Corporation’s Rocketdyne Division was fully operational. "We couldn’t believe that it was possible to clean up this mess in only two days and have us up and running in three," Tcheng said. "We were prepared for a much longer clean-up and were convinced that some of the equipment would have to be replaced which would result in a much longer downtime."
"When we first met the restoration team we were a little apprehensive since we didn’t know what to expect. Now, I can safely say that we are absolutely delighted with the turnaround and the results."
But the job was far from finished. Rocketdyne has been working on a new disaster plan. "As you can imagine this was all new to us. No one ever expected an earthquake of this magnitude nor the type of damage we had," Tcheng continued. "We learned a lot. We now have a much better idea of what to do if this or any other major catastrophe happens. We knew enough to cut the power. Now we know how to help prevent further contamination, while we are waiting for the professionals to start the recovery process."
Fire, flood, earthquakes—all prerequisites to living and working in California. We can’t avoid them, but we certainly can be prepared to better handle them. That includes having a plan in place before you need it, being well-stocked with supplies and knowing who to call to help make the recovery fast and as painless as possible.
Mark Fritz is the Western District Manager for the Relectronic Service Corporation in Anaheim, Calif.
New disasters come with less warning and leave with greater chaos than earthquakes. From a commercial standpoint, structural damage created by earthquakes can virtually put a company out of business. For a hospital, however, too much is at stake to have all operations come to a halt.
In 1989, an earthquake created major structural damage on the grounds of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, an internationally recognized leader in research and educational facilities for treating childhood diseases. The main research facility on the multi-site Childrens Hospital campus was severely weakened and all offices were forced to evacuate. Testing of the structure concluded that the only remedy was demolition and rebuilding--a process which would take five years.
The hospitals 27 research divisions were housed in the doomed building, yet in a real estate miracle new offices were quickly acquired directly across the street from the hospital campus in the Hollywood Presbyterian Tower, an independent medical center. Despite the amazing proximity between the hospital campus and the new offices, an unexpected obstacle came about: reconnecting the telecommunications link between the Smith Tower, the central building on the hospital campus, and the earthquake-exiled offices in the Hollywood Presbyterian Tower.
On the Childrens Hospital campus, all of the buildings were connected by computer cabling. This was not a difficult feat, since the hospital was free to dig up its grounds for cable installations. Yet once it took space at the Hollywood Presbyterian Tower, Childrens Hospital was unable to obtain the necessary right-of-way permits to dig a trench across the road to install new computer cables. And even if the permits were obtained, connectivity required instant speed and the laborious cable installation task could not serve the hospital's time-sensitive schedule.
The next option was leasing telephone lines. Unlike cable installations, the lines were already in place; however, the high data transmission speeds needed for computer connectivity would not have been possible. Furthermore, budgetary considerations of obtaining sufficient capacity vetoed the additional expense of this option.
A third option came in microwave transmissions between the two sites. However, this telecommunications vehicle required a lengthy delay for governmental approval, which the hospital could ill afford, and the data processing staff honestly admitted a strong lack of comfort with this technology.
The solution to this problem came in a rather unlikely form: laser beams. Not the thick bolts of fluorescent power which science fiction heroes use to slice something in half, but rather a local area network (LAN) connectivity technology in which data, audio and video transmissions are linked via infrared lasers in exterior line-of-sight applications. Despite the strangeness of the set-up, its advantages were staggering: no need for lengthy or disruptive installation, no need for governmental approval, no expensive maintenance and no oversized monthly leasing fees.
Childrens Hospital acquired the L00-18 system which is designed to send and receive Ethernet transmissions at a full 10 Megabits per second on infrared laser beams operating at a wavelength of 820 nanometers, which is invisible to the human eye. Its design allowed for a 24-hour transmission of high-speed data requirements, including clinical research material, word processing and electronic mail, at speeds superior to conventional systems. The system was fully compliant with IEEE 802.3 standards and fit right into the existing LAN.
The hospital chose an unobstructed line-of-sight path between the tenth floor of the Smith Building and tenth floor of Hollywood Presbyterian Tower. (The technology requires an unobstructed transmission path.) L00-18, like all of the LACE products, are short-haul telecommunications systems which only reach distances of up to three-quarters of a mile. However, the hospital only needed to connect a space of 1,100 feet. Installation took less than a day.
The stopgap disaster recovery system not only kept communications active between the sites, but began to produce considerable savings in terms of electronic mail transmissions. Memorandum which would normally be paper-based was carried by laser beams between the facilities, with time savings (no need for delivering paper), cost savings (no need for purchasing paper) and ecological savings (no need for wasting paper).
In January 1994, another earthquake hit the Los Angeles area. The L00-18, which is housed in weatherproof casing and is not disrupted by the city's fabled smog or sunshine, held up brilliantly as the ground shook. Transmissions did not fail during the earthquake nor in its chaotic aftermath, which registered thousands of aftershocks. In view of the invaluable hospital information being transmitted via laser beam, it could not afford to go down.
Michael Berman is Vice President of Laser Communications, Inc., in Lancaster, Pa.
In spite of the many new advances in technology and the associated cost refections that have made electronic vaulting more affordable than ever, many companies still rely on physical backup tapes as the backbone of their recovery plan. Critical data, deemed vital for the recover of a business, must be current, complete, accessible and transportable in older to assure a timely, successful recovery. Among the lessons gleaned from the Northridge Earthquake is that this string of dependencies is fragile at best and easily broken, especially under the circumstances present in Los Angeles in January, 1994.
That the data must be current is a given. That companies pay sufficient attention to the backup process on a regular basis is not. Backups are routinely taken and diligent tape librarians dutifully package the files daily and ship them off to a vault. As companies change or grow and those same changes are introduced into the information systems, the corresponding changes are not always immediately incorporated into the backup process. As a result, backups are not always immediately made, or if they are, not always immediately sent off site with the other "vital records." Without regular inspections, audits or recovery drills (a.k.a. exercises or tests) these deficiencies usually go undetected until the records are recalled for a live recovery. By that time, however, its far too late for a remedy. At best, the timetable of the recovery is blown because the delinquent backup files have been destroyed in the same event that caused the recovery. While the worst case did not occur in the Northridge Quake, it was due more to providence than good planning.
A new wrinkle in this backup/recovery scenario is the frequent use of remote tape mounting robots and storage systems. A few companies have begun to capitalize on the efficiencies of these devices by directing all of their backup files to a separate, remote (from the home site) automated tape mounting system. The theory being, in a disaster, one need simply empty the contents of the remote storage system and send all the files to the recovery center. In practice, as witnessed during the recent recoveries, this process is more susceptible to error than the old manual process. The reason for this is that there is no oversight in the automated process and without very strict change controls, exits or Job Control Language might be changed to inadvertently route some backup tapes to the wrong storage device. This all happens out of sight and with the speed of light and is particularly difficult to uncover until the actual files are needed in earnest. And all it takes are a few misdirected backup files to ruin an otherwise flawless recovery.
A final lesson regarding companies in earthquake prone areas is the accessibility and transportability of the backup files. The piercing eye of the news camera brought the stark reality of the devastation destruction of Northridge into every living room. It was clear for all to see that the infrastructure of a large segment of the city was severely crippled. Roads and highways, power and water, communications and airports were all curtailed if not halted. This is the environment that planners must continue to envision when they develop a contingency plan, select a location for the storage of their vital records and envision how those records will be transported to the recovery center. Once again, this event pointed out the deficiencies in some of the plans. Vital records vaulters were selected whose own facilities were affected by the event. Communications to vaulting locations are extremely difficult, if not impossible, in the hours immediately after the quake. The inability to provide prompt direction to vaulters delayed the shipment of some sets of vital record from the stricken area.
Alternatives to this serious exposure are many and varied and can easily be implemented, although some may increase the ongoing cost of backing up data. Choosing a vital records repository that is a considerable distance (at least 50 miles) from the data center is one way to assure that the disaster that cripples the center does not also affect the backup files. Even better, choosing a vendor in close proximity to the recovery site not only assures that the same disaster won't strike both but also that the time to retrieve the vital records and send them to the hot site is absolutely minimal. The trade-offs in cost versus benefit, however, must be made for each individual case.
John Nevola is a manager for IBM Business Recovery Services Center.
During the Loma Preita earthquake which struck the San Francisco bay area on October 17, 1989, more than nine billion dollars in damage occurred. Four billion was from property damage, while business interruption damage caused $5 billion in damage.
Much of the damage occurred in areas populated by small businesses. And many of those businesses have found it difficult to recover.
In Santa Cruz, much of a six-block stretch along Front Street and Pacific Avenue was reduced to rubble. A year later, 50-year-old storefronts were propped up with braces, but there were no stores behind them. Damage in the city was estimated at $155 million.
By 1990, only a handful of stores had reopened in the Pacific Garden Mall, which suffered extensive damage.
In San Francisco, the 7.1 earthquake forced numerous businesses to close. Even those which didn't suffer extreme physical damage were closed while officials conducted safety inspections. Many business owners were not allowed in to retrieve paperwork, equipment or anything for several days.
This may have been a contributing factor to the number of small businesses which were forced to close. A San Francisco newspaper estimated that in stricken areas up to 25% of the smaller companies would be forced to close their doors.
A year after the earthquake struck, hundreds of small businesses in the San Francisco area remained boarded up. The plywood storefronts were covered with graffiti.
Though federal and state aid was provided to the area, reconstruction was slowed by bureaucratic delays and seemingly endless feasibility studies. Many small companies could not withstand the delays.
Other factors may have also contributed to small businesses' inability to recover. Most larger businesses have the staff and resources to prepare and recover from disasters.
However, for most small businesses, it's a different story. Many smaller companies do not have the ability to support a fully operational backup site. Therefore, many do not make the attempt even to follow the simplest backup procedures.
Others may implement some type of disaster recovery plan, but lack the manpower to successfully test it.
In addition, if a disaster such as the San Francisco earthquake does occur, there are fewer people employed in smaller businesses to carry out the untested plan. And with fewer employees, there's more likelihood that the employees' personal properties will have suffered damage, causing them to be distracted from the company's needs.
Smaller businesses also are vulnerable to greater damage from business interruption. A large corporation may withstand losses of several days with minimal impact, but for smaller firms this can be devastating, especially if they are competing with larger firms who market similar products.
Small business owners face the incredible task of rebuilding their company as quickly as possible, with fewer resources and manpower. For many, this is an impossible task.
Proper planning can offset the handicap many small business owners face. A good contingency plan pared to the company's needs can be the greatest tool when disaster strikes and can help even the smallest firm recover fully.
Janette Ballman is an editor for Disaster Recovery Journal.