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RE: Misc Opinions

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-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2003 2:18 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Misc Opinions

Mark,

snip

I also know that there is apparently an engineer in area that is smack
in
the middle of the New Madrid fault area that is actively working to get
his city to NOT adopt the 2000 IBC because the seismic provisions would
cost too much for new construction.  And that does not even address the
large number of unreinforced masonry buildings East of the Rockies that
could be laying on the ground with a considerable seismic event.

--------------------------------------

Scott and Mark,
The first earthquake I ever felt was in 1969 while on campus in
Carbondale Illinois - Southern Illinois University. This is in the
region of the New Madrid Fault and I would never have expected an
earthquake in Illinois. I was riding a tram during homecoming weekend
and I watched as brick chimneys came down on wood framed homes. I really
didn't feel much of the motion of the quake as I was in the vehicle, but
I saw the chimneys swaying back and forth before they collapsed.
My roommate was still asleep in the dorm and he awoke to seem my guitar
(an original 1964 Cherry Red Epiphone Rivera) standing straight up in
the guitar stand and swaying from side to side. He dove out of bed just
in time to catch it as it was about to hit the floor. Thankfully, he
caught it in time.

Denial is the first phase of recognizing the problem. As I mentioned in
another post, Santa Monica fought the same war to prevent the states
hazardous building notification and retrofit plan because the ex-mayor
hired an engineer from either UC Irvine or UC San Diego who reported to
the city council that Santa Monica was essentially isolated from other
faults in the Southern California area and would not likely be harmed.
His reasoning was based on historic data and the city council bought it.
The identified the buildings but did not enforce a retrofit program
until the Northridge Earthquake hit and destroyed many URM's in that
town. 

Look at the Paso Robles quake - the building that collapsed was more
than 80 years old and had little damage from past quakes. The Bam
earthquake destroyed buildings that were standing for centuries without
damage. The point is that the damage will happen. Maybe not in my
lifetime, but the odds are that the plates will move and buildings will
be affected by it. Damaged buildings are in the wrong place at the wrong
time is inevitable and the state or government who protects the safety
of their citizens should work out something that will make it easier to
repay the retrofit debt. Lower interest loans, reimbursement from
increases in rent etc. I'm not saying the government should pay for the
retrofit work, but I believe, like a student loan there should be a
reduced interest rate and maybe a tax deduction for the work to offset
the cost.

I know of one engineer in Nashville who already has seen damage to URM's
- Cracks occurring in the walls etc. He too does not believe that these
buildings are really at risk and is advocating not conforming to the
retrofit program (to his local building official). 

It is much cheaper to retrofit and not need to upgrade to current code
requirements than it is to tear a building down and build a new one. In
time the opinions will change and most of the professionals will start
to get involved in retrofit design to understand what the intent of the
code is - not to guarantee life safety or performance, but to improve
the odds to get people out and to support the structures (gravity and
lateral) until the people are out. After this, the disposition of the
building is up to the engineer who can report whether or not the
building can reasonably be saved.

I just hope they get wise to this before the damage comes rolling
through town. Believe me, I am 10 miles from the San Andreas Fault and
the Paso Robles earthquake woke up some of the people down here who have
not experienced a strong motion (yet moderate earthquake0 like
Northridge) to wake up and understand the importance of the retrofit
program. We don't want to be counting bodies in the 1000's as the
unfortunately must do now in Iran. It doesn't get any more terrible and
a waste of human life when there is enough wealth to in the country to
help protect their people as we do in this country.

Sorry for the Diatribe (I'm trying to stay out of politics or terrorism
discussions).

Happy New Year
Dennis

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