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Turkey Earthquakes Put Spotlight on Bay Area Retrofitting Efforts

The destruction caused by Monday’s major earthquakes in Turkey is raising questions about quake retrofit efforts in the Bay Area.

About a million homes in California need some kind of quake retrofit, according to the California Earthquake Authoritiy, and only 10% of California homeowners have earthquake insurance.

Janiel Maffei, chief mitigation officer with the California Earthquake Authority, said the age of many homes in the Bay Area puts them at a heightened risk if the region were to have quakes similar to the sizes of the ones that rocked Turkey and Syria.

“A lot of our construction happened around the World Wars,” Maffei said. “That was before we had readily adopted seismic provisions for our residential construction.”

Howard Cook, owner of Bay Area Retrofit, has completed thousands of retrofits over the past two decades. He said retrofitting is unfortunately not a high priority for homeowners until it’s too late.

“People literally have to be shaken up,” Cook said. “If they’re not shaken up, they become apathetic.”

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said he’s concerned about older buildings standing up to a major earthquake. But his biggest concern is local hospitals meeting the state’s updated seismic standards by 2030.

The California Hospital Association has been pushing for an extension, saying retrofitting could cost hospitals statewide more than $100 billion.

“That’s going to be a big challenge here in the Bay Area and across the state, having hospitals meet the new 2030 seismic standards,” Gioia said.

As for homeowners, Maffei hopes they don’t wait for the big one before taking action.

“A $5,000 retrofit can significantly reduce the likelihood that you have to leave your house in the event of an earthquake,” Maffei said. “It can reduce the amount of damage by hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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