THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - Twenty years ago, the magnitude 6.7 quake in 1994 killed 57 people and injured close to 12,000 others in LA, Orange and Ventura counties. The Northridge Earthquake caused an estimated $40 billion in damage, making it the most costly disaster in US history.
The quake struck at 4:31 a.m, affecting an area covering 2,192 square miles - the first temblor to knock out power in every area of Los Angeles. Here in the desert, people felt it, too.
"It was frightening it was shaking a lot. Nothing fell in our house, but one little thing fell in our house," Gwen Herron said.
We also talked to people who now live in the desert, but lived closer to the quake 20 years ago.
"In Hollywood, my wife and I were on the second floor and we were just getting out of bed and we heard the whole house move and we felt it. The next thing I knew we heard down below all the dishes coming out of the closet," Fred Bass said.
We even found one man who lived in Northridge at the time.
"The room I was staying at, the TV on the dresser, just flew and hit me in the leg I was sleeping. Everything in our house was just gone," Bryan Miller said.
Many expect the Coachella Valley to be ground zero for a major earthquake sometime in the not-so-distant future. "CREWS", or Coachella Valley Regional Earthquake Warning System, will give up to a 30-second warning before severe shaking starts.
It's already in place at local fire stations, but a lack of funding has stopped it from being installed in local schools.
"We want to take a regional approach to earthquake warning. Provide the services to the schools, law enforcement, the hospitals and ultimately to the public," Blake Goetz of CREWS said.
FEMA offers some tips on how to prepare for an Earthquake:
- To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
- Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
- Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
- Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches on top and bottom.
- Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
- Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.