Los Angeles and the Haiti lesson

In Economy, In The News, World on January 16, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

This is what I realized as I was sending donation to a certain Haiti relief fund via a SMS from my cell phone.

The people in Haiti live in an earthquake zone on $2 a day and they have nowhere to go.

At the same time, people have been building and developing Los Angeles despite the 1994 Northridge quake. They voluntarily move into a city where their house can be destroyed any second… I don’t get it…

Central Europe usually gets very slight earthquakes (definitely not direct ones) with almost no damage at all…


2 Responses to “Los Angeles and the Haiti lesson”

  1. One big difference between California and Haiti are building codes. Simply put, if you want to build a house or other structure in California, you have to use construction designed to withstand large-magnitude earthquakes. Obviously there’s little you can do if a massive quake hits right underneath you, but the building standards are a big reason major earthquakes can hit in an area of such high population with relatively few casualties (the death toll was under a hundred).

    Frankly, if I was choosing a place to live based on potential for natural disasters, I’d gladly take my chances with earthquakes in California rather than living someplace prone to floods, tornados, hurricanes, etc.

  2. The entire West Coast of North America is on or near major faults. Quite obviously, we’re not about to depopulate the area, despite the fact that everybody living here knows that The Big One is quite likely to happen in the next 2 days or 200 years.

    Some ostrich people believe that “it is not gonna happen to me”, but most are, as the previous poster suggested, living in buildings that designed to withstand mild to moderate tremors.

    Haiti got hit by a scale 7+ quake. Such a quake would cause extensive damage on the West Coast, but not level 80-90% of the buildings in any town as it did in Haiti.

    Also, Canada and the USA, being amongst the richest countries in the world, have emergency measures in place to deal with natural disasters and the means to provide immediate medical and humanitarian assistance to the populations in affected areas.

    Even before Haiti was devastated by the hurricanes 2 years ago, it was an economic basket case, unable to provide the most fundamental necessaries of life such as enough food, clean water, opportunity to earn a decent living, to its population.

    Seattle was hit by 5.3 earthquake a couple of years ago. Most residents have long forgot about it and had gone on with their lives.

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