Earthquake Disasters: 1933 Long Beach Earthquake

On the 10th of March the year 1933 in the afternoon at 5:54pm PST, the ground below the feet of Long Beach California resident’s began to shake violently, people fell, buildings collapsed and structures crumbled. It was that event that took the name “The 1933 Long Beach Earthquake”. The earthquake that had struck was measured and had a magnitude of 6.4 while also having a Mercalli intensity of VII, which meant it was at the maximum and was considered as “severe”. The epicenter of the earthquake was located offshore at the southeast portion of Long Beach California on the Inglewood Fault at Newport.

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The damage to infrastructures due to the earthquake in Southern California was immense, but the damage did not only affect inanimate objects, people were damaged as well, some even lost their lives or the lives of the people they love. The estimated cost of the structural damage was worth about 40 million dollars. But what’s even more unfortunate is that, 115 people had been victims of the earthquake and lost their lives. These casualties had happened in the middle of the panic the people felt when they were running in order to try to get out of the buildings they were in and were hit by falling debris.

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One of the reasons that most of the major damage was in thickly settled Long Beach up to the southern area of Los Angeles California, was that they were placed in an area with conditions that were geologically unfavorable due to landfill, alluvium that is water soaked. These conditions accompanied by infrastructures that were poorly constructed were additional factors that had increased the resulting casualties of the earthquake. In Long Beach, the structures had collapsed to the ground, the water tanks had fell off through the roof and homes were threw off their foundations. Among all the structural damages that Long Beach had gotten from the earthquake, it was the schools that suffered most of the structural failures. It was the educational institutions that had taken the most severe damages out of all kinds of infrastructures.

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Because of the earthquake that had devastated California in the year 1933, it was evident that there was a need for changes in how buildings were being built. It was after that incident that there was a emphasized need for buildings that are designed to be earthquake resistant in the state. Schools especially needed that kind of upgrade since the earthquake had demolished 230 school infrastructures in California. Majority of them were completely destroyed, some had suffered irreparable damage and others were judged to be unsafe to occupy. On the 10th of April 1933, the California State Legislature had passed the Field Act. The Field Act was a mandate that school infrastructures should be built to withstand the strength of earthquakes. Even though what had happened was a tragedy, it is still fortunate that the disaster did not happen during school hours, because if it had happened during those times then the death toll would have been much higher.

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