Seismic retrofitting applications due by Dec. 1

In September, residents were surprised by a 4.3 earthquake that was centered in Carson. Though California has been focused on wildfires lately, one cannot forget about the more than 500 active earthquake faults that run throughout the state.

Homeowners in particularly earthquake-vulnerable neighborhoods across the Southland could receive grants to help offset the cost of seismic retrofitting under a California Earthquake Authority program that began accepting applications last week.

“Most California residents live within 30 miles of an active fault,” said Dr. Steve Bohlen, head of the California Geological Survey during a recent zoom news conference. “How well you prepare equates to how well you will survive.”

Houses, especially older homes, can break away from their foundations during a major earthquake. That is why the state launched the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) grant program, which is available to residents in 395 ZIP codes across the state, including a host of Southern California neighborhoods. The $5 million program will offer the $3,000 grants to about 1,700 homeowners.

Homeowners with a household income at or below $72,080 could also qualify for supplemental grants that could potentially cover the full cost of seismic upgrades. The purpose is to help homeowners lessen the potential for damage to their houses during an earthquake by “bracing” the crawl space, when necessary, and “bolting” the foundation to the house’s frame.

“Bolting houses to their foundations and bracing the crawl space walls can help Californians protect their families, their homes and their investments,” Janiele Maffei, chief mitigation officer of the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), said in a statement. “We’re pleased to extend additional support to income-eligible homeowners to help cover up to 100 percent of the cost of a seismic retrofit, and we encourage all eligible homeowners in EBB ZIP Codes to apply for funding now.”

Eligible ZIP codes are chosen based on seismic risk and concentrations of older homes. For a complete list of eligible ZIP codes, visit https://rb.gy/qjgy30. Applications for the grants can also be made online at www.earthquakebracebolt.com. Applications are due by Dec. 1.

“About 16,000 older homes across the state can be retrofitted,” said Glenn Pomeroy, CEO, of the California CEA. “It’s about planning, preparedness and prevention.”

“We are still waiting for the possible ‘big one,’” said Lori Nezhura, the deputy director of planning, preparedness and prevention for CalOES—the governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “Our take away for you is this: Don’t wait.” 

Other preparations that the California Geological Survey recommends are:

• Planning on fending for yourself for at least three days, preferably for a week. Electricity, water, gas and telephones may not be working after an earthquake. The police and fire departments are likely to be tied up.

• Stock your emergency supplies.You’ll need food and water (a gallon a day per person); a first aid kit; a fire extinguisher suitable for all types of fires; flashlights; a portable radio; extra batteries, blankets, clothes, shoes and money (ATMs may not work); medication; an adjustable or pipe wrench to turn off gas or water, if necessary; baby and pet food; and an alternate cooking source (barbecue or camp stove). This list can also be applied to other disasters, such as floods or wildfires.

• Decide in advance how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake. Do in-home practice drills. You might choose an out-of-the-area friend or relative that family members can call to check on you.

• Secure hazards and big appliances. Including water heaters, major appliances and tall, heavy furniture to prevent them from toppling are prudent steps. So, too, are storing hazardous or flammable liquids, heavy objects and breakables on low shelves or in secure cabinets.

• Discuss earthquake insurance with your agent. Depending on your financial situation and the value of your home, it may be worthwhile.

During an Earthquake, if you’re indoors, stay there. Get under—and hold onto—a desk or table, or stand against an interior wall. Stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture, fireplaces and appliances. The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot. If you’re in an office building, stay away from windows and outside walls and do not use the elevator. Standing in a doorway during the shaking is not a good idea. You’re more likely to be hurt by the door swinging wildly in a doorway or trampled by people trying to hurry outside if you’re in a public place.

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