80-Years After the Long Beach Earthquake Residents Reminded to Prepare

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Earthquake damage at Long Beach Poly High School

Collapsed dome of the Long Beach Polytechnic High School building is visible through the school’s front entrance, after the earthquake of March 10, 1933. Photo from the Long Beach Public Library Digital Archive.

Eighty years ago on March 10, 1933, Long Beach was hit at 5:54 pm by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, causing an estimated $50 million dollars in damages and 120 deaths. Following the quake, many residents had to live in tents in local parks and ate food provided by the National Guard. More than 90% of Long Beach schools were severely damaged. Students attended classes in parks and in tents for the next two years.

“A lot has been learned since the 1933 earthquake, especially how residents can become prepared to survive a predicted deadlier earthquake,” says 5th District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske. “That’s why we have put together a forum with a number of federal, state and local experts who will help Long Beach get ready for the ‘big one.’” 

According to experts, California has a 99.7% chance of being devastated by a 6.7 earthquake or higher within the next 30 years. Many believe the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault would produce a magnitude 7.5 or greater if the “Big One” hits Southern California.

Ready Long Beach

Schipske has organized a day long “Ready Long Beach” public forum on March 9th and will be joined by KCET Host Val Zavala. Zavala appears on the popular public affairs program SoCal Connected and is featured on the KCET special “Bracing for a Quake” which is frequently aired in an effort to get Southern California residents ready for what is predicted to bea major quake.

“Ready Long Beach” will be held at the El Dorado Community Center, 2800 N. Studebaker. The program starts promptly at 9 am and includes: a brief historic look at the 1933 Long Beach earthquake followed by presentations from experts at USGS, FEMA, Cal EMA, Long Beach Fire Department, CERT and American Red Cross. A light lunch is included and then a “table top” exercise led by the representatives from the Long Beach Chapter of the American Red Cross to help participants prepare their neighborhoods. The forum concludes at 2 pm.

The event is open to the public. Reservations are encouraged by calling: 562 570-6932 or emailing: district5@longbeach.gov, so that the appropriate amount of materials and food can be ordered.

Schipske, who is a trained member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) set emergency preparedness as a priority for her council district by emailing and posting monthly “Ready Long Beach” alerts that include tips on how to get prepared for an emergency.

The March 9th forum is the second in a series of public meetings planned to help residents become prepared. 

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