California has experienced many disasters over the past century, and given its geographic location and climate there is always a risk of earthquake or fire. While the risk of an earthquake occurring in the Coyote Valley area is lower than in other parts of California it is still a risk that must be taken seriously. Damage from fire is also a grave concern as the lack of rain raises the fire risk, particularly during the height of the summer months. Dry conditions, coupled with strong winds, can cause thousands of acres of land to be razed by fire in a matter of hours.
The following are some of the worst disasters experienced in the past century:
Affecting Oregon, Nevada and California, the Great Flood was so named due to it being the largest flood in history for the 3 states. After several weeks of heavy rain and snow falls in Oregon, when the snow melted flooding that began in Oregon continued south into California, traveling as far south as San Diego. The melted snow filled valleys, and flood waters swept away several towns, broke dams, destroyed homes and fences killing domestic animals. The flood waters also completely ruined large areas of farm lands.
Though the earthquake itself only lasted a minute the aftermath lasted for four days as a large part of San Francisco burned as a result of gas mains breaking causing sparks to ignite. As water mains were also damaged firefighters were left with very little water to fight the massive blaze with. 500 city blocks were damaged, 3000 citizens lost their life, and around 225,000 people were left homeless. Landslides were another side effect of the short-lived earthquake, with one major one being the Devil’s Slide that caused $1 million of construction equipment to be lost at the Ocean Shore Railroad.
In the New Year of 1982 a heavy downpour of rain affecting the San Francisco Bay area caused thousands of flows of debris to travel from the county of Santa Cruz, culminating in a number of landslides that were estimated to have resulted in damages of around $66 million. Though the rain storms had caused 33 deaths it is believed that 25 of those deaths were as a result of landslides.
An earthquake of a magnitude of 6.9 that hit central California in October was felt particularly strongly in and around Santa Cruz and San Francisco, but also was reported as being felt as far away as Nevada. As a result of the quake many buildings were destroyed, fires broke out, and the city of San Francisco was without power for a number of days. The quake occurred shortly before a World Series game was about to start at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
Extremely dry conditions coupled with strong winds created a blaze that before it was brought under control burned over 1500 acres of land, destroyed thousands of apartments and houses and killed twenty-five people. What began as a small brush fire ripped through heavily wooded, hilly areas near Berkeley and Oakland.
A severe heat wave with recorded temperatures being as high as 110 degrees caused the Los Angeles and Central Valley regions to suffer greatly during July of that year. As a result of the high temperatures over 140 people died, most of them senior citizens unable to cope with the extreme heat conditions.
In the early part of 2017 California experienced its wettest winter for a century, causing flooding in Oregon and Nevada flowing into the Northern part of California. Roads and highways sustained damage to the tune of about $1 billion. As the flooding came after a bad drought many areas were not prepared for the onslaught of water from rain and melting snow. While roads were damaged lakes and reservoirs were refilled putting an end to the drought conditions in April of 2017.
California’s warm, dry climate is largely responsible for many of the droughts and floods that occur. Though many cause only minor damage to farm lands and challenge city storm water drains to cope with the copious amounts of water, once in a while significant damage occurs causing roads to be impassable, power lines to be brought down, and floodwaters causing damage to lower levels of many homes.
California is also at high risk of earthquakes, with many small ones being felt throughout various parts of the state. Residents of the state are only too aware that the likelihood of a repeat of the San Francisco and Los Angeles earthquakes that devastated California last century is high compared to many other parts of the United States. Seismic activity is being constantly recorded in the hopes of being able to accurately predict the next ‘big one’ and warn residents in time to avoid loss of lives.