New tsunami hazard maps highlight threat facing seven California counties — even Napa County, seen as an outlier — after another devastating earthquake.
In the Pacific Northwest, aftershocks following the massive Camp Fire that ripped through the region in November, destroyed a dozen homes, killed 40 people and sparked a mandatory evacuation, have had a long-term effect in driving down recovery costs.
The damage isn’t always obvious in places where the damage is minimal, like the coast of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, where two homes that were saved from falling into the ocean after the Camp fire were reduced to rubble by the aftershocks.
Now, the danger of a major Pacific quake is beginning to be seen in San Francisco, where the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned residents in the central city in October that there was a 40 percent chance of a major tsunami following a magnitude-7.8 quake off the Southern California coast.
On Friday, the San Francisco Bay Area was placed on alert as a potential target if an earthquake hits near the coast, after a series of aftershocks that have rattled the region since the Camp fire.
“I thought it was kind of a joke after the Camp fire,” said Mary Kostyra, a San Francisco woman who uses a wheelchair but took part in the mandatory evacuation. “Then, I realized, we haven’t had a serious earthquake in the Bay Area for over a hundred years. Now, it’s happening and nobody knows when it’ll come back.”
While scientists and earthquake experts worldwide are taking the threat of mega-quakes seriously, local officials have been slow to act. In Marin County, which is considered to be an “urban island” in the Bay Area, officials said in October that they still had no plans to take the threat of an earthquake seriously.
In Santa Cruz, a city of 300,000 people, the threat of a mega-quake triggered a mandatory evacuation order for residents three days after the Camp fire. The evacuation order was the first one issued after a major quake was recorded in the Bay Area.
“I was just so shocked that, after such a big, major earthquake had happened, it didn’t even come up