Expected Annual Cost of Earthquake Damage for California Skyrockets

Posted May 4, 2023, under Blog

According to new projections for California, the golden state is estimated to lose on average $9.6 billion a year from earthquake damage. And if that number sounds high, that’s because it’s a 157% increase from the last estimate which was in 2017.

“In any given year a big earthquake strikes … you can easily anticipate a $100-billion loss,” USGS research structural engineer Kishor Jaiswal, the principal investigator for the report, told The L.A. Times.

So what’s with the price hike? The total is a reflection of how much value older buildings in CA hold — a value that has soared in recent years.

“Los Angeles and Orange counties share the highest price tag of any metro area in the nation, with a combined projected average annual loss of $3.3 billion a year. In second place is the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley metro area, with a projected loss of $1.8 billion a year,” reports The Times.

And if things stay at the same rate, over the period of three decades California could see losses of $288 billion from earthquake damage. This remains especially true if CA ever gets hit with the highly anticipated “Big One,” like a 7.8 magnitude earthquake happening along the San Andreas fault or the Hayward fault.

“It’s a sobering reminder about why we need to prepare for those rare but large earthquakes, as just one major event can eclipse the costs of the more frequent but smaller ones,” USGS Director David Applegate said.

To give you some perspective, the 6,7 earthquake which hit Northridge in 1994 caused $20 billion in damage and more than $40 billion in economic loss.

All of this information should highlight the importance of earthquake retrofitting. A large portion of California’s buildings are still standing without the necessary retrofits to protect them from large earthquakes. Retrofitting homes, apartment structures, and commercial buildings are key to keeping California resilient in the face of natural disasters like earthquakes.

Remember, retrofitting for earthquakes costs far less than repairing the damage from a large seismic event.

“This study reinforces the nation’s need to be proactive about making communities safer from threats like earthquakes,” FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks said in a statement. “This includes adopting the latest seismic building codes and investing in earthquake resilience projects.”

If you think your home may be in need of earthquake retrofitting, foundation repair, or foundation replacement, contact Julian Construction today and we will send one of our foundation specialists out to conduct a free, thorough inspection with a quote for repair.

We have extensive experience serving our Los Angeles community and nearby regions. In fact, Julian Construction has inspected over 30,000 structures in the area! Give us a call at (323) 733-3377 to schedule your free inspection or complete the inspection request form.

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