FILE – Damaged pavement from an earthquake surrounds the Searle Valley Domestic Water company in Trona, Calif., on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.
James Quigg, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature was in session on Jan. 17, 1994, when a magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County in California.
Walter Arabasz, former chairman of the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, said the devastation the California earthquake caused called attention to Utah’s own seismic preparedness.
“There had been, over a number of years, frustration with failures to move forward legislation either creating the commission or with other seismic safety initiatives,” he said, adding that at the time of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, “it was getting close to year five of a long series of frustrations and failures (for seismic safety advocates).”
Arabasz said “the currents of the Northridge earthquake in Southern California, in terms of earthquake awareness and motivation for action, seem to have been influential.”
Utah lawmakers took action with a bill that created the Utah Seismic Safety Commission, a 15-member independent board tasked with advising the public and private sector on matters concerning seismic preparedness.
Coincidentally, the commission’s 25th anniversary falls less than a week after two earthquakes hit the same region of California, causing many Utahns to again rethink their own seismic preparedness.
Audrey Pierce, program manager for Fix the Bricks, an initiative that utilizes federal dollars to retrofit unreinforced masonry buildings, said her program received an additional 100 applicants within 24 hours of the recent California earthquakes.
A celebration for the commission’s 25th anniversary took place in the Capitol’s rotunda Thursday morning. Individuals in attendance received information on emergency preparedness, safety planning, brick home retrofits and tours of the Capitol’s own seismic reinforcement structures completed in 2004.
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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News