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Economic Impacts of Major Earthquakes on Businesses to be Topic of Resilience Advantage Webinar Feb. 21

Experts To Discuss How Businesses Can Prevent Serious Earthquake Damage

February 9, 2023

Economic impacts of a major earthquake in California such as the one that devastated Turkey and Syria will be discussed by an expert panel on the Resilience Advantage webinar from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

You can sign up here.

The human toll of the recent earthquakes has been staggering.  More than 20,000 were confirmed dead and some 50,000 injured in the massive 7.8 quake – the largest to hit the region in more than 100 years — as of Thursday, Feb 9. Thousands of buildings have collapsed and continuing aftershocks are leaving tens of thousands without shelter in freezing weather. 

Economic impacts of the earthquakes are projected to be massive for the two countries that were already suffering difficult economic conditions.  Villages and towns are destroyed, economies disrupted, and gas, electricity and water pipelines compromised. Although the full extent of the devastation will not be known for some time, experts indicate recovery from such a large earthquake can take years or even decades.

Ross S. Stein, CEO and Co-Founder, Temblor, Inc., an expert in seismic threats who helps property owners understand their seismic risk and how they can reduce it, will appear as a special guest on the program. 

“The earthquake fault responsible for the Turkey disaster is very similar to the type and length of faults we have in California,” says Stein. “Earthquakes can not be ignored or willed away. California needs to build stronger buildings and strengthen older buildings with retrofits.”

Also scheduled to appear on the Resilience Advantage webinar panel are Evan Reis, Executive DirectorU.S. Resiliency Council, Ben Raju, U.S. Small Business Administration and Tracy Hernandez, Founding CEOLos Angeles County Business Federation.

“These recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria are a wakeup call for our nation,” says Evan Reis, Executive Director of the U.S. Resiliency Council.  “Reducing the potential for such severe loss of life and damage to our own economy in a similar event is imperative.” 

Reis has commented on the important work ahead for the SBA and the USRC to assist in enhancing small business resilience in the nation. “Earlier this year the Biden / Harris administration announced its initiative to modernize building codes and improve climate resilience. The SBA will play an important role in this initiative, and we look forward to providing support to the SBA in this vital effort.”

Panel members will discuss steps small businesses can take to reduce costly impacts from major earthquakes, which include: 

Damage to buildings & facilities 

Loss of contents, equipment, inventory and supplies; 

Business interruption losses

Loss of market share

Death and injuries to occupants, employees and customers


The panel will also discuss the need to update business plans before disasters strike, to provide for well-coordinated response and recovery. Mitigation options for seismically vulnerable buildings include:

Avoidance – Reducing risk by structural and nonstructural retrofitting, or leasing/buying more resilient properties

Adaptation – Developing post disaster response plans and operational redundancy to speed recovery time

Assignment – Transferring the risk to others through insurance

The rural northern coast of California recently experienced two earthquakes of 6.4 and 5.4 magnitude with 200 plus aftershocks in the past few months. Although much smaller than the 100-year quake seen in Turkey and Syria, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) initially assessed 1,942 structures in the Humboldt County area, with 257 “yellow tagged” requiring repairs and over 90 “red tagged” and deemed unsafe to enter. The quake resulted in the displacement of approximately 180 residents. Homes were knocked off their foundations and many lost chimneys. Power outages, ruptured gas lines, loss of internet service impacted the area. Many people with damaged homes or business properties lacked quake insurance.  Yet, it could have been much worse.

These moderately sized quakes were just a few of the 7,750 quakes that strike California annually. If these had been major quakes or located in a heavily urban area, the damage could have been much more extensive. The 6.7 Northridge earthquake 29 years ago caused the deaths of 57 people — 16 in one apartment building. Another 9,000 were injured and thousands were displaced from their homes. The earthquake inflicted some $93-billion in damage – the most costly quake in U.S. history. Experts anticipate that larger events centered in the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay Area could leave as many as 400,000 people homeless and cause in excess of $200 billion in property and economic loss.

In light of these facts, business leaders, architects, builders, structural engineers, planners, property owners and government officials urgently need to work together to make buildings, businesses and communities more resilient to earthquakes and other disasters. Improving building resilience takes public education and policies that balance safety, protecting the economy, and the cost of improvements. 

Resilience Advantage webinars are designed to enable business owners to make better plans and informed decisions about how to protect their businesses, buildings and employees, how to quickly recover from damage to minimize business interruption, and how much improved resilience may cost initially and ultimately save.

“Advances in our understanding of seismic threats make businesses and buildings better able to withstand earthquakes and to recover faster,” says U.S. Resiliency Council’s Reis. “Earthquakes can have devastating impacts on vulnerable buildings, people and our economy, but they don’t have to be disasters. Investing in resilience is good economics and sound business. This webinar will show the value that resiliency brings to small businesses, now and in the future.”

Making buildings safer and more resilient can provide numerous benefits: preventing death, injuries and property losses; preserving jobs and workforce housing; and protecting vital services and local economies. Resilience planning can lead to concrete actions that assist buildings and communities withstand shocks, avoid serious damage and recover more quickly from California’s greatest natural hazard – earthquakes.

This webinar continues an educational series conducted during the past five years by the U.S. Resiliency Council in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed)the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC)the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Optimum Seismic, Inc. The U.S. Small Business Administration recently partnered with USRC to support this educational programming as a co-sponsor. Optimum Seismic, Inc. will continue to serve as program sponsor.

About US Resiliency Council

Created in 2011, USRC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to educate, advocate and promote better tools for assessing, designing and communicating the performance of buildings during earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters. To learn more, visit www.usrc.org.

About Optimum Seismic, Inc.

The Optimum Seismic team has been making California cities safer since 1984 by providing full-service earthquake engineering, steel fabrication and construction services for multifamily residential, commercial and industrial buildings. With more than 3,500 earthquake retrofit and renovation projects completed, Optimum Seismic’s work includes soft-story multifamily apartments, unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings and tilt-up, non-ductile concrete and steel moment frame buildings. To arrange an assessment of your building’s earthquake resilience, contact Optimum Seismic at (833) 978-7664 or visit optimumseismic.com.