Earthquake stuff

You kow, it’s a little weird but I am still a tad ‘shook up’ (get it?) over our earthquake a couple weeks ago. The effect at ground level here in town was, as my friends tell me, negligible but the effect I experienced was a tad more disconcerting. The Lincoln area, where the quake clocked in at a 5.8, is about 65 miles from here. I’m no geologist, but it seems that if there could be such a strong earthquake 65 miles from here, could it not also have happened here as well? (The answer, of course, is “it depends”. Are we in Missoula on the same plate as Lincoln? Are we in similar proximity to a fault? etc, etc.)

Regardless, earthquakes had never been one of the things on my radar for preparedness. Oh, they were there in the sense of “When California slips into the ocean, how will that affect me other than having to buy food and drink for the party?” but the notion of a destructive (keyword there) earthquake happening ‘neath my feet? Hadn’t really entered into my realm of possibility.

My homeowners insurance needs to be renewed next month. I think I’m going to have a very focused talk with the insurance guy about if I’m covered for earthquakes and earthquake related damages.

Speaking of Mom Nature getting PMS’y, we had a pretty intense blow come through here the other day. Folks across the street from me had half a tree come down on top of their nice, new Subaru and turn it into a Fubar-u. I heard the weather alert emergency tones on the radio and decided to err on the side of caution….took down the big 11’ umbrella in the yard, placed some weight on all the patio chairs, and closed the windows….glad I did. Winds were quite intense and there was a good bit of wind damage in the area. I had the EU2000 ready just in case but, surprisingly, power stayed on just fine. It did remind me, though, that I need to drop a few bucks and pick up a dedicated emergency weather radio with one of those alert warnings.

15 thoughts on “Earthquake stuff

  1. Home owners ins. does not cover earthquakes with out a specific rider . Also ask your agent about an non specific threats clause that covers non listed threats’ . You will still need the earthquake rider though. Hope you are doing well after your unexpected surgery.

  2. When you shop for earthquake insurance, be sure to ask your salesman *who* specifically gets to define ‘which’ damage was caused by the earthquake, and ‘which’ damage was caused by gravity/God/faulty construction/water/fire.

    In the end, I suspect “earthquake insurance” ain’t worth the paper (or ‘trons) it’s written on.

    • Excellent point.

      There was much wrangling over people who had flood insurance and had losses caused by hurricanes. The insurance people told them that since the floods were a product of the hurricanes, they were not covered.

      Similar to how the WTC insurance issues came up over whether it was one incident or two and if the it was airplane strike AND fire or airplane strike resulting in fire.

  3. You will find that earthquake insurance is hideously expensive. Damage to small stuff can be prevented with anchoring, and planning, the big one is damage to structures that requires major repair or replacement. You don’t see it anywhere but Kali, and it’s limited there, but there are automated shutoffs for gas, water, elec, etc. and some (mucho $$) actually physically disconnect the service. New houses in Kali must conform to earthquake code requirements, older ones can be retrofitted, but there is a limit to how big a quake they can withstand. The code is intended for occupant protection primarily, not purely structural integrity protection (house unusable but occupants OK). I don’t know anywhere else that incorporates similar building requirements in the building codes.

    If earthquakes are a real issue, a Plan B for living quarters in case yours can’t be lived in would be prudent. FYI, in FL hurricanes come in summer, earthquakes are a 12-month deal, so consider winter.

    RE: wind – tip from FL – standard tie-downs and earth anchors work great (in FL when hurricanes are forecast it’s routine to just throw the lawn furniture in the pool). If you have a poured concrete patio (or other surface), drop-in anchors are the ticket (even available in stainless). Anchors are installed flush with the surface (although they can be set a little deeper, depending on slab thickness), the holes can be “filled” smooth with stainless set screws. When wind is forecast, screw in eye bolts and attach tie-downs. A half inch hole takes anchors that use 3/8 bolts, which is plenty even for 120 mph winds.

    Weather radios: get one with S.A.M.E. so you can limit alerts to just your county. Programmable alerts are good, too, so you can pick what type of alerts you get. Otherwise whenever a cloud passes in front of the sun NWS will set the radio off with one of their panic alerts (“there’s a thunderstorm, we’re all gonna die, film at 11”). The Midland WR-300 is the less expensive choice, the Sangean CL-100 a better choice. Both are also AM-FM, 120 volt adapter + internal battery. There’s a “remote location” antenna available for the Sangean, don’t know about the Midland but there is an RCA-plug port for one and the Sangean remote location antenna has an RCA plug, so it fits.

  4. What do you call the survivalist who owns an Icom R6 and the software to reprogram it, but not a $9 RadioShack weather radio?

      • No offense meant. I think it’s very typical of all of us to spend a lot of money on awesome gizmos, while at the same time having a blind spot for the inexpensive but mundane things that are arguably more likely to be of use in an emergency.

        Case in point, your $200 scanner is awesome, but it’s the $9 weather radio you don’t own that may do more to save you in an emergency.

        • You can program the weather radio frequencies into a scanner. You just wouldn’t get the tone activation like you do with a weather radio.

    • Thanks for this. One of the many great things I enjoy about this blog is the consistent quality of the comments, which are often sources of good gear recommendations and tips. I’ve added this to my Amazon wishlist, and will probably pick one up in the near future.

  5. we felt it over here north of Billings and it was strong. Shook the heck out of our 2 story house on a hillside. Now its fire season so earthquake are not as big a concern.

  6. Historically, what does as much, or more, damage as an earthquake is the follow on fires. Lots of ignition sources, water supply iffy, and firefighting crews and equipment may not be able to reach the fires due to access problems. The more ‘quake damage, the more likely fire becomes a problem.
    The 1906 SF ‘quake was estimated at 7.7-8.3, and killed 3000 in SF alone. They are expecting another similar power ‘quake before 2050.

    ‘Quake insurance is expensive, with lots of potential coverage cutouts, due to the likelihood that a big one could wipe out most all insurance companies. Which means that collecting after a big hit is very iffy. Another ’06 quake, with the entire Bay Area built up, would be the definition of a disaster. In addition, there is another fault that runs from near AK to Los Angeles, IIRC. One could set off the other, as it is also due in the short term. Fun times ahead for the West Coast.
    I need to get my butt over the Sierras.

    • Look at the post-Sandy fire that wiped out much of a Queens neighborhood. Keep in mind this was in an area served by the nations largest and best funded firedeaprtment and even they violent deal with the fires from Sandy.

  7. Not sure of your particular situation, but flood insurance is also not usually lumped in with homeowners. May be a good opportunity to check the 100 year flood plain just to be sure.

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