(.) – Just after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that shook southern California on July 4, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, a lifelong angelina, tweeted that it was the longest earthquake she had ever felt.
“It was very long,” she wrote, “I first thought, is this the Great?” But it wasn’t even the largest tremor that Californians would see that week, with a 7.1-stronger earthquake that occurred just a day later.
Ultimately, neither was the legendary Big One – as the Great Earthquake is called – a catastrophic earthquake that could occur along the San Andrés fault and that geologists have warned is likely “behind.” .
This week was just a reminder. Jason Corona, whose family owns a restaurant in Ridgecrest near the epicenters of the earthquakes, said he was uncomfortable because the aftershocks kept him awake Friday night.
“It’s constant adrenaline,” he said, “because we don’t know if the next one will be the big one.”
Last week, he and other residents woke up to the headlines: “The July 4 earthquake will not delay Big One,” read one Friday in the Los Angeles Times; The New York Times reported that Thursday’s earthquake was “a reminder that Big One is lurking.”
Earlier this year, KPCC, a public radio station in Southern California, launched a new podcast titled “The Big One: Your Survival Guide,” aimed at training Californians to prepare for a potentially devastating earthquake.
As the last major earthquake fades in the rearview mirror, people inevitably forget about the looming threat, said Albert Adi, a small business owner who has lived in Southern California since 1980. “And then it comes a big one and he remembers it ».
“Everyone is wondering, ‘Is this getting close to Big One?'” He added. God knows it is not an easy feeling.
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The Great is coming
According to geologists, a large earthquake along the San Andrés fault is likely to be “behind schedule.”
Large earthquakes have generally been seen in the southern San Andrés fault every 150 years, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). And since the last major earthquake in 1857, the southern segment of the fault “is considered a likely location for an earthquake” in the coming years.
A strong 7.9 magnitude earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 means there is a slightly lower probability of a major earthquake occurring in the northern part of the state, the USGS website said.
Many residents, like Steve Rios of Riverside, California, are well aware of the threat.
“Honestly, I would say it is something that Californians always recognize because the San Andres fault is here,” he said.
“We are standing on two different (sides) of the fault,” he said. “It is a kind of feeling of fear.”
The earthquakes this week probably will not increase the probability of a major earthquake on the San Andrés fault, the seismologists said. They occurred near Ridgecrest, north of the fault.
But they don’t make it any less likely, either, Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology, told reporters.
There is about a 2% chance of Big One happening every year, Jones said on Twitter this week, or about 1 in 20,000 times every day. While the chances may not be high, residents shouldn’t be surprised.
“One must always be preparing for Big One,” he said.
According to the USGS, such an event would likely be preceded by a period of increased seismic activity for several years. For the past two decades, Jones said Thursday that Southern California has experienced “an extremely quiet time” when it comes to seismic activity.
But in the future, “this is what we should be thinking about the most,” he said.
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‘I don’t think anyone is ready’
Rachel Higgins, a student at Diamond Bar, California, said that, like all Californians, she has heard of the so-called Big One. It is “part of the California legend,” she said, but admitted she has not prepared for that. That will probably change in the future.
“It will be much more urgent in my mind,” he said.
Rios said that as a child, he and his peers learned to “duck and cover” and be prepared.
That said, he does not believe that many Californians are ready. He has a supply of water and food on hand, perhaps a little extra spare gasoline, he said, “but I don’t think anyone is ready for something so catastrophic.”
Beth McCoy, who lives in Glendora, California, is not very anxious.
“I’m not too worried,” she told .. “I am a structural engineer, so I am aware of the risks.”
“My husband found it funny when we bought our houses that he was crawling under the house, checking the foundations,” she said.
She thinks they are “quite ready.” They bolted their bookcase to the wall as soon as they moved to prevent it from falling. As for food, she believes her garden could last indefinitely.
Corona said this week’s earthquakes have made him reconsider whether he really is ready.
“I know that I have personally switched to the ‘be prepared’ wagon,” he told .. “I think everyone has been quite indifferent about it, but now I feel like people are going to get much more involved. I know my family does it.
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‘You have to continue living’
Adi, who also studied engineering, said that over the years he has seen many improvements when it comes to building regulations aimed at reducing the scope of possible devastation.
In October 2015, Los Angeles passed extensive seismic regulations, which require the remodeling of thousands of buildings to resist violent earthquakes. San Francisco enacted a similar law in 2013.
Meanwhile, the state has been working on an early warning system throughout its territory, called the California Integrated Seismic Network. The system would not only warn the public, but would also interact with critical infrastructure to automatically shut down some parts of the state’s infrastructure, such as train systems.
Governor Gavin Newsom said Saturday that the system is 70% complete, but still requires further expansion.
But the governor also emphasized the responsibility of each individual to prepare.
Adi, a father of four children, has taken a more practical approach.
He warned his children of the danger and made them aware of best practices, he said. They know they shouldn’t panic, keep their eyes open for downed power lines, and contact their parents. And have enough bottled water and dry food stored in his garage to last for several weeks, he said.
All his acquaintances take the threat seriously, he said, but residents cannot live in a perpetual state of fear. “We know how dangerous it is … but you have to keep living.”
Ultimately, he said, it’s just one of the concessions of living in a place with beautiful weather and good job opportunities.
“It is the risk you have to accept by living here in Southern California,” he said.
“Hopefully,” he added, “everything will be fine.”
.’s Sarah Jorgensen, Alexandra Fields and Chris Audick contributed to this report.