County better prepared for the next quake

Scared of the next “big one?” San Benito County officials have a plan in place in case the next major earthquake strikes, and they ask that you do the same.

After a string of small earthquakes in the early morning hours of Nov. 2, the San Benito County Office of Emergency Services emailed a press release detailing the quakes and how residents should prepare.

The release said eight earthquakes occurred between 5:58 am and 10:02 am. The magnitude ranged from 4.1 early in the morning to 3.0, and there were no reports of injuries or damaged property.

“According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the probability that any earthquake will be followed within three days by a large earthquake nearby is only about 6 percent,” read the press release.

However, Kevin O’Neill, emergency services manager for San Benito County, said the county was using this as an opportunity to inform the public on how to prepare in the event of a more damaging quake.

The county recommended securing large furniture items, placing breakables on bottom shelves or on the floor, maintaining an emergency supply of non-perishable food, keeping an emergency supply of potable water and other emergency supplies, creating an emergency plan with your family, organizing and protecting important documents, and registering your cell phone with CodeRED to receive up-to-the-minute emergency information.

If a larger earthquake were to happen, the county would be able to employ several emergency response measures to get information to the public, including making reverse 911 calls and reaching out to media. O’Neill told the Free Lance these measures would only be employed if the situation were catastrophic.

“Several active and potentially active earthquake faults are located within San Benito County including the San Andreas and Hayward/Calaveras Faults as well as fault complexes and branches of these major faults,” according to the San Benito County emergency response plan.

“Under severe ground acceleration (shaking) and liquefaction, Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis reveals that in San Benito County 3,285 residences and 494 businesses, one hospital, two police stations, four local fire stations and 5 public schools are in high earthquake risk areas.”

O’Neill said the more people are prepared for the next big earthquake, the more the county can help residents. “The preparedness piece is so important,” O’Neill added. “That’s what helps us help the people in need.”Ready.gov has more information on how to prepare for disasters.        

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