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If an Earthquake Strikes Santa Clarita



What You Should Do

Scientists have been warning us that a major earthquake along the San Andreas Fault is inevitable.

We've all heard this before, but what does it mean?

While the San Andreas Fault is by no means our only cause for concern, it receives a major focus of attention from scientists and government officials because it has the potential to cause the greatest damage. This particular fault runs almost the entire length of California, cutting across power and gas lines, highways, aqueducts and railroads-literally cutting us off from the rest of the continental United States. Does this mean California would fall into the ocean? No. However, restoring basic necessities of civilized life (water, utilities, and food sources) would take months.

And whereas the flood in along the Gulf Coast has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, Los Angeles alone is home to 15 million people. Relocating the population would not be an option; sheltering in place appears to be the reasonable solution.

How much damage would Santa Clarita likely receive? The 1994 Northridge Earthquake was a 6.7; the shaking lasted 15 seconds. Doug Given, Geophysicist with the USGS, tells us that scientists estimate a quake caused by the San Andreas Fault would last about 2-3 minutes; eight to twelve times longer than the Northridge quake. The epicenter of the Northridge quake was ten miles from the City of Santa Clarita; the San Andreas Fault is twenty miles from our city.

The damage would be extensive. Citywide losses alone during the Northridge Earthquake totaled $430 million, with public infrastructure losses at $29 million.

When an earthquake hits, what should I do?
Duck, cover and hold. Get under a table or other heavy furniture.

What will happen with the shaking stops?
Expect aftershocks. These aftershocks can produce shaking as strong, or stronger, than the initial quake.

What should I do after the earthquake?
Fall back on your family's disaster plan. Hopefully, you have designated an out-of-state contact so you may check in on one another. (Most likely communication within the state will be sparse.) When safe, head to your family's meeting area.

Avoid downed power lines. Do not turn off your gas line unless you smell gas. Do not enter severely damaged buildings.

Assist neighbors and co-workers in your area.

Where will help come from?
Tune in to our local radio station, KHTS AM 1220, on your battery-powered radio. (Do not rely solely on your auto's radio, as you may be unable to refill your gas tank or replace your vehicle's battery.) Emergency personnel will be in communication with valley residents through the station's airwaves. Once power is restored, you may also visit their website, www.hometownstation.com, for updates.

Technically, help for residents in the approximately 140 miles of unincorporated areas will come from the county, whereas city residents will receive assistance through city officials. Both areas receive emergency assistance through the LA County Fire and Sheriff's Departments.

Is it safe to drink the water?
No. Do not drink tap water following an earthquake. Drink only bottled water.

Where will I be able to purchase additional supplies?
Additional supplies may not be available to purchase. Remember, most stores are automated and operate on electricity. It is important to be self-sufficient for at least seven days. Keep at least $200 in cash on hand, in $5 and $1 denominations. You may be able to purchase supplies with cash, but change will most likely not be available.

Keep in mind you will not have access to prescription medications, so always keep additional meds on hand-particularly for serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

Can I just live out of my motor home?
Certainly, you may do so. Just remember that you will not be able to refuel or 'hook up' for electricity or water.

Can I just leave the area?
Perhaps. However, airports may be closed and highways damaged. The overpass connecting Hwy 14 to Interstate 5 has twice collapsed during a quake. No alternate exits from your neighborhood-and the valley.

There is no history of an earthquake of the magnitude predicted to know what our infrastructure will withstand.

Also, you may wish to stay and protect your property from looters.

How will I settle with my insurance company?
Insurance adjustors, or CAT teams (Catastrophe teams), will begin to arrive on the scene when it is safe to do so. Speak to your agent now to plan your course of action. Keep important insurance papers and photos of your home in your Go Pack (copies of social security cards, driver's license, insurance papers, birth certificate, passport, medical records, etc.) You will need to identify yourself to receive assistance. Remember: Without earthquake insurance, you do not have coverage for this disaster. And if a dam breaks during the quake and floods your home, you'd better have flood insurance.

Home Inventory Form
Insurance Information Network of California provides a Home Inventory Form, a coloring activity book for kids, and answers your questions about Earthquake Insurance.


Is Your City Prepared?
The City of Santa Clarita has weathered nine federally declared disasters since its incorporation in 1987, including fire, floods and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The City has activated its Emergency Operations Center three times in its young history.


  • Because of the 2003 fires, the City received a donation from the Gas Company providing the City with two satellite phones, which allow the City constant, uninterrupted communication in the event of a disaster.

  • Due to Homeland Security grants, the City now has a stand-alone, satellite Internet system, which allows the City an internet connection via satellite. (The City would not need to rely upon a server to connect with areas outside the region in the event of a disaster.)

  • After the 1994 earthquake, the City purchased a generator that will power city hall for seven days, 24-hours a day, allowing the City to better recover and help the community after a disaster.

  • The City has an alternate Emergency Operations Center at its new Transit Maintenance Facility, which has phone lines, data ports, WIFI and more.

  • The City's Automated External Defibrillator program provides 13 of these at strategic locations at all city buildings, providing emergency medical assistance.

  • The new WIFI system in Central Park helps to support any emergency operations staging area that may locate in Central Park (such as with the 2002 wildfires).

  • The City works with the Valencia Industrial Association in coordination with their safety committee, three Emergency Communication Centers, Evacuation Coordination and amateur radio operations.

  • The City participates in an annual drill with LA County's Operational Area, which includes 88 cities.

  • City staff continually undergoes training in preparedness, terrorism awareness, Standardized Emergency Management System, fire suppression, first aid, CPR, and shelter operations.

  • The City offers CERT training to valley residents. 820 residents are currently trained.


More Information About Earthquakes

Disaster Preparedness
In addition to earthquakes, be prepared for whatever nature or man may toss your way.




Updated January 23, 2017
Endorsed by
County of Los Angeles SCV Chamber of Commerce California Travel and Tourism Commission
In association with
City of Santa Clarita SCV Tourism Bureau
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