CREWS Earthquake Warning System Needs Funding

COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - Japan has early earthquake warning systems, which may have limited some of the damage, and an early earthquake warning system has been at coachella valley fire stations, for at least 10 years.

But a recent push to get the technology into desert schools and hospitals has run into road blocks, keeping the project from lifting off the ground.

KESQ is the media partner for the CREWS project.

It stands for Coachella Valley Regional Earthquake Warning System.

The Coachella Valley Association of Governments is the agency in charge of the project, trying to spread the technology throughout the region.

Geologists say it's a great idea -- the project just needs money.

For example, if a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the Salton Sea, it would trigger an alert.

The La Quinta fire station would receive the warning in 7.5 seconds, opening the bay doors, fire fighters would be notified and the station lights would be turned on.

The goal is that one day schools will give students enough time to drop, cover and hold before the shaking starts.

"The gas company, the water company would also be on this system and so they would be able to shut their systems down, so you don't get the big roaring gas fires that can often cause more damage than the earthquake itself," said Dr. Nancy Moll, an associate professor of geology at College of the Desert.

"The goal is to protect lives and that's the intent, is to protect as many people as possible," said Tom Kirk, executive director of CVAG. "Give them that 10 seconds or 20 seconds or 60 seconds of advanced warning that an earthquake is coming. Government is pretty good about rushing to the cause after the disaster, where often times it's not so good about preventing."

But the project is at a stand-still because it hasn't completed funding.

In order to spread the warning system region wide, Kirk says more than $2 million needs to be poured into the project.

He knows that's not coming from the State of California, which is $25.3 billion in the hole.

CVAG has applied for a FEMA grant.

Other than that, Kirk is calling on the public to the project forward.

"They could help by writing to us and letting us know how important this is to them and that's somethings we can pass along to state and federal funding sources," he said.

"Some places in Japan have that," said Moll. I haven't heard how well it worked. I think they've got the system in Tokyo, but whether it kicked on, I don't know."

"Look what happened in Japan," said Kirk. "We can't wait 300 years to put this into place. It needs to be in place immediately."

The reason KESQ is a partner in this project is because the quicker we know that an earthquake is about to hit, the quicker we can warn you.

That will hopefully give you just enough time to get to a save place and survive the big one.

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