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Re: Deliberate Spreading of Falsehood by National Research Council

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Let me clarify our position on the Fire Departments--we both have great
respect for these individuals.  They have been a tremendous help in
disseminating all kinds of emergency preparedness information.  Our comment
was that this was not their primary purpose.  All kinds of preparedness
information is available at your local fire station because it is centrally
located to the neighborhood.  However, this information was not developed
by the Fire service.  It was developed by emergency managers and
professionals who work in the emergency management field.

Yank, you are correct about the fact that we (engineers) have not done a
very good job of educating the public in regards to seismic issues.  Our
problem is that we have not devoted the time to building a public education
program.  Instead, all of our time has been spent on research and code
development.  However, developing code documents does not automatically
mean that they are adopted into building codes.  It takes long hours to
convince building officials that there is a need for change.  I know that
many of us complain about how complicated the seismic provisions are.  For
this I do not have an answer.  We need to work harder at making provisions
easier to use and easier to understand.  But, we also need to develop a
public education program.

A second point you make Yank was the insurance payouts after the Northridge
earthquake being primarily for wood frame construction.  You are absolutely
right!  However, what you are forgetting is that the epicenter of the
earthquake was in the middle of a residential area.  One would expect a
large degree of damage to wood frame structures.  Our comment in that area
was that wood frame structures are still the safest around.  This does not
mean that they do not get damaged.  In siting your statistics, I ask you
how many wood frame, single family residences collapsed and killed people?

We have made tremendous progress since the Long Beach Earthqake, a mere 60+
years ago.  Since Northridge we have developed and gotten into the code
retrofit provisions for tilt-ups, single family residences, hillside
residences, and more are being developed all the time.

One key fact you miss in your concerns is that the public has a very short
memory.  Immediately after an earthquake they are very concerned and want
to know why there aren't better building codes, why there aren't mandatory
retrofit ordinances.  Then, after a few months, they forget.  When you talk
about retrofitting single-family residences these same people object that
the government can not force them to spend money on their homes.  Their
comments are usually in the vain of "...why my house has made it through
the Long Beach, San Fernando, and Northridge earthquakes without a single
crack.  Why do I need to strengthen it?"  What they fail to see is that
these earthquakes were small compared to what we can expect at sometime in
the future.

One final comment on emergency managers--Audra has been in the field for
15+ years and I have been working in it for around 10.  Emergency managers
do more that run earthquake preparedness campaigns.  They must continually
review and update response, recovery, and hazard mitigation plans.  They
must continually integrate new technologies and programs into their
response capabilities, they need to learn and implement new techniques in
managing disasters, and they run preparedness campaigns on all hazards that
are prevalent in California (earthquake, flood, fire, wind, snow,
landslide, etc.).  In time, the message will be heard.

Rick and Audra Ranous