The last thing that residents of San Francisco expected early on the morning of April 18, 1906, was the terrifying noise and shaking of a mega-quake. While the quake lasted just about a minute, at that time, it was considered to be the worst natural disaster in our country’s history. By today’s measurements, the quake of 1906 registered about 8.25 on the Richter scale.
Damages from this earthquake were estimated at over $350 million when all was said and done. In fact, many city blocks were completely destroyed and close to 25,000 buildings were brought down as a result of the powerful rocking and rolling of this particular temblor. Even with so many buildings down, the situation was made much worse due to the fires ignited by the earthquake.
Residents of the city experienced fear and terror as they watched buildings crumble and collapse, cornices break away crushing folks below, men pinned under burning wreckage and workers roasted alive in burning buildings with no way to escape. People described stones falling from the sky, huge buildings waving back and forth and streams of fire shooting out of windows. Survivors thought the end of the world was coming.
The city’s destruction was more than anyone could imagine. Streets were unusable, sinking three or more feet in some places; in other places, the earth moved in such a way that humps as tall as five feet formed. Street car tracks were completely broken, twisted completely out of shape or ripped out of the pavement. Commercial properties, such as warehouses, factories and office buildings, were damaged beyond recognition, twisted out of shape with walls cracked and bulging. The base of many buildings physically moved two to three feet.
Fires blazed in all directions. Throughout the city, water mains were broken by the earthquake, so there was no water available to use, except right from the bay. There were no other water sources available for fire fighters around the city and they were helpless to stop the fire from spreading.
Could the same situation occur today? It is entirely possible that the West Coast will experience another devastating earthquake in the next twenty to thirty years. Many of the older buildings in the California do not meet the more stringent building codes in place today, therefore they are not prepared to withstand the force of any major tremors. Commercial property owners should consider an earthquake retrofit to strengthen their buildings. An earthquake retrofit gives standing buildings enough resistance to survive powerful seismic activity. The retrofit process usually includes strengthening the roof-to-wall connections; it also includes shoring up shear walls, strengthening continuity ties, and providing any necessary roof maintenance. Buildings in the Bay Area, and throughout California, should be evaluated to determine whether they need to be reinforced prior to the next mighty temblor.
It is always wise for any commercial landlord to consider building and tenant safety, along with earthquake preparedness. If your commercial property was built more than twenty five years ago, now is the time to schedule an inspection or to get the necessary maintenance completed to strengthen your building. To get more information on how to renovate your commercial property to the more current California building codes with an earthquake retrofitting, call Saunders Commercial Earthquake Retrofit Bay Area today!