LOS GATOS (KPIX 5) — A new report released Wednesday shows exactly what parts of the Bay Area will be at risk if and when a big earthquake strikes the San Andreas Fault.
The Alta Loma neighborhood is one of the prettiest in Los Gatos, but it was anything but back in 1989 after the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Dozens of homes were lost and many residents were forced to evacuate.
“There were several homes that were knocked off foundations. Some of them didn’t have foundations,” said area resident Bob Raye.
Raye and his house survived the quake, but many of his neighbors weren’t so lucky.
“And then the county came around and tagged homes that weren’t safe to live in. There were several of those,” remembered Raye.
Now a new report commissioned by the Association of Bay Area Governments says what happened during Loma Prieta would be a tiny fraction of the devastation to occur if a worst case magnitude 7.8 quake hit along the San Andreas Fault on the Peninsula.
‘We’re expecting about 200,000 uninhabitable residential buildings and around 70,000 households displaced,” acknowledged ABAG spokesperson Dana Brechwald.
By comparison, estimates of the number of homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey range from 30,000 to 40,000.
“We actually don’t have any experience in the country of displacement of this magnitude, so we don’t know the implications of where people would go or how the Bay Area would recover,” said Brechwald.
The study blames the Bay Area’s aging housing stock as a major factor.
“And much of it was built prior to building codes that include seismic conditions,” said Brechwald.
It would have a devastating impact on the housing supply and trigger a major exodus of mostly low income people out of the Bay Area, according to the study.
Los Gatos resident Joe Reveles retrofitted his century old home after Loma Prieta. His neighbor Bettina Quisol — who also rode-out the earthquake — now has earthquake insurance.
“I don’t think about an earthquake often. What else can you do?” asked Quisol. “You can’t prepare for it like a tornado, I’m from the Midwest, where you get some warning. There’s not much you can do.”
The Association of Bay Area Governments is also working with the U.S. Geological Survey on an additional report that is due to be released in April.