On average, there are 10,000 earthquakes in California each year, occurring in all corners of the state. In Los Angeles County, the California Geological Survey has mapped dozens of faults throughout the region. The state regularly maps new faults that cut through multiple cities, landmarks, and even individual buildings. These facts should serve as a call to action for all Californians and homeowners in particular.
During an earthquake, large and dangerous objects fall, gas and water pipes burst, and electricity is cut off. Also at risk are older homes that may not be bolted to their foundations and could slide or fall over in an earthquake
While other disasters, such as fires and droughts, make headlines, Los Angeles residents need to keep an eye out for earthquakes. There are many ways to prepare in advance. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is urging residents to create an emergency kit, family plan, and download the MyShake phone app. Californians also need to protect their homes.
Most Los Angeles residents don’t know if their home could withstand an earthquake. The first task is to know when a house was built. Modern homes are designed to stand up even though they may suffer structural damage in an earthquake. However, many homes — about 1.2 million according to the California Earthquake Administration — built before 1980 are considered more vulnerable because they are not bolted to their foundations and there are no bracing to the timber frame walls, if any, in the crawl space. These homes need to be upgraded to improve their seismic performance.
The good news is there is a program that supports qualified homeowners. The California Residential Mitigation Program’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) grant program can help strengthen your property and protect your family.
Through November 29, 2022, eligible homeowners can apply for a grant of up to $3,000 EarthquakeBraceBolt.comwhere they can also find detailed program information, select FEMA-trained, California-licensed general contractors, and view the complete list of eligible zip codes and program areas.
In a Brace + Bolt retrofit, the foundation is bolted to the frame of the house, and if there is a crawl space (or crippled wall) it is braced with plywood. This will prevent the house from slipping or falling off its foundation during an earthquake.
The EBB program aims to help homeowners reduce the potential for damage to their homes during an earthquake, and sSince 2014, when the first Brace + Bolt retrofit was completed, EBB grants have helped more than 17,500 homeowners retrofit their homes.
This year, thanks to additional FEMA funding administered by Cal OES, nearly 15,000 EBB grants will be available to homeowners in 521 zip codes in more than 270 cities and towns.
Income-eligible homeowners may also qualify for available additional grants. Amounts vary by region and type of retrofit performed. These additional grants, available to households with incomes of $72,080 or less, can potentially provide up to 100% of the funding needed for a seismic retrofit. The grants depend on the fulfillment of the funding requirements and the available funds.
Once registration for the 2022 program closes on November 29, participating homeowners will be selected through a random drawing and notified by email in January 2023 if they have been selected or waitlisted.
We know that disasters can devastate local communities, and the more prepared you are in advance, the better your outcome will be. In California, Earthquakes are a matter of when, not if, and understanding the importance of being earthquake prepared can lead to faster recovery for a resilient California.
Anthony Portantino is a California Senator who is in the 25th Senateth Senate District stretching along the 210 Freeway from Sunland/Tujunga to Upland. He also sits on the Seismic Safety Commission.