Earthquake plan for Southern California signed into effect

20:11, December 16, 2010      

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State and federal emergency officials on Thursday signed off on a plan designed to deal with a catastrophic earthquake in Southern California.

The plan was designed to help prepare Southern California for a catastrophic, 7.8-magnitude earthquake that would kill up to 1,800 people, leave more than 50,000 injuries, one in 16 buildings being significantly damaged, and about 1,600 fires in the region that require fire department response, officials said.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) participated in the signing ceremony.

"We know that it's not a matter of 'if,' but 'when' the next big earthquake is going to shake California to its core," said CEMA Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen. "This has happened in California before... It's a realistic scenario that can happen anytime."

Bettenhausen said an event like a 7.8 (magnitude) earthquake would create an overwhelming situation for government.

"Our Number One priority is to ensure we're doing everything we can to be ready for it, and have a carefully crafted, comprehensive plan in place to enable maximum coordination between federal, state and local agencies," he said.

Federal and California officials worked for nearly two years to prepare the Southern California Catastrophic Earthquake Plan, a 2.4-million-dollar process involving more than 1,500 emergency management professionals, officials said.

The plan outlines steps to promote coordination between a variety of federal, state and local agencies, the non-profit sector, faith-based communities and others. It also clearly details the roles and responsibilities of each in a catastrophic incident.

"This has set the standard of how we can do very strong planning (for catastrophes) and teamwork building and take this effort around the country," said Justin Dombrowski, a FEMA response division director for Region 9, which includes California.

The same federal and state agencies signed a San Francisco Bay Area Catastrophic Earthquake Plan last year.

Source: Xinhua

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