Asian Art Museum Proactively Addresses Earthquake Concerns  

In preparation for a three-month exhibit, “Roads of Arabia,” which would prominently feature 8-foot-tall Arabian sandstone colossi, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco sought new ways to protect the statues. While the museum itself is equipped with a number of features, including base isolators, to prevent earthquakes from damaging the collections, the scale of the colossi presented a challenge to traditional means of reducing risks. By using a system of thin, sliding plates concealed within the display podium, the museum hopes that in the event of an earthquake the colossi would be able to safely move, independent of the building structure, and remain upright. The system was designed by EQX Global and museum staff will be working with researchers from UC San Diego to measure any potential seismic activity and its effect on the colossi. Not only could the steps taken by the museum preserve these two artifacts, but if proven successful, the technology could be applied to other large collection items to protect them from earthquakes.

To read more about the exhibit and the Asian Art Museum’s disaster preparedness steps, click here. To read more about earthquake preparedness, see previous SHEP posts here.


Participate in EMI’s Earthquake Focus Virtual Tabletop Exercise (VTTX)

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is offering a four-hour Earthquake Focus Virtual Tabletop Exercises (VTTX) in January. The VTTX involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting and can be used to assess plans, policies, training, and procedures. This exercise will provide an excellent opportunity for cultural agencies to engage with their EMA (and vice versa) to further customize the scenario to include cultural and historic resources. All 50 states and 5 US territories are at some risk for earthquakes. How prepared is your state to respond?

The VTTX differs from other tabletop exercises in that it is conducted using Video-Teleconference (VTC) technology (not web-based), and is intended to provide an opportunity for responders across the nation to participate simultaneously in a hazard-specific facilitated discussion. Lead facilitation for the exercise will be coordinated by EMI, with local facilitation provided by the participating EMA. This is a great opportunity to prepare for a potentially devastating earthquake.

Click here for more information. The deadline for your EMA to apply to participate in the exercise is December 22, 2014.

Join in the Great ShakeOut on October 16

During National Preparedness Month, we hope you took the opportunity to prepare for possible disaster events in your community and region. If your region is susceptible to earthquakes – and most regions are – now is the time to put your plans to the test! You are invited to join in the Great ShakeOut, an annual event that promotes earthquake preparedness and organizes the “world’s biggest earthquake drill.” At 10:16 am on October 16, participants will “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” for at least one minute. FEMA encourages schools, childcare facilities, families, colleges, local, state, and federal government offices, tribal organizations, businesses, hotels, healthcare facilities, museums, libraries, other cultural institutions, and all individuals to participate. As of October 3, over 23,049,339 participants have registered. Promote earthquake preparedness in organizations and communities you are a part of by joining in.

Many resources are available to help you plan your participation and share valuable information about what to do in the event of an earthquake. If you choose to lead a drill, the Great ShakeOut provides manuals and tips for many different scenarios. If you are looking for information to share on what to do during and before an earthquake, FEMA has created a short video, “When The Earth Shakes,” which provides key information in an accessible format. For more information, see previous posts about earthquake preparedness and mitigation, and increase your knowledge about the risk of earthquakes in your region.

Earthquake Mitigation Resources

In the aftermath of Sunday’s Napa Valley earthquake, California’s State Heritage Emergency Partnership is functioning just as it should: the state cultural agencies are communicating, collaborating, and coordinating with each other and with the state Office of Emergency Management to ascertain damage to cultural institutions and historic sites and properties. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.

Although the magnitude 6.0 earthquake highlights California’s inescapable susceptibility to earthquakes, it’s important to remember that all 50 states and five US territories are at some risk for earthquakes. As a no-notice event (unlike a hurricane, for which there is advance notice), the best planning entails mitigation. FEMA has a number of resources to help organizations:

QuakeSmart is a FEMA National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) initiative to help businesses in at-risk earthquake communities implement earthquake mitigation actions. The QuakeSmart Toolkit (FEMA P-811) is available online.

Earthquake Safety at Work provides information on what businesses and organizations can do before, during, and after an earthquake. The activities described all fall under the preparedness umbrella.

The Directory of FEMA Earthquake Partners, updated in May 2014, provides contact information for more than 300 organizations and individuals involved in earthquake mitigation at the federal and state levels and in the non-governmental sector.

And if you’re still not convinced that earthquake mitigation works, watch the six-minute video Earthquake Mitigation Saves Lives. Hoyt Fields of Hearst Castle, the historic house museum and California State Park, and Jim Saunders, owner of a historic building in Paso Robles, CA, describe the earthquake mitigation activities they have undertaken to protect and preserve history.

USGS Updates Earthquake Hazard Maps

The U.S. Geological Survey released their updated National Seismic Hazard Maps, showing 42 of the lower 48 states have a reasonable chance of facing damage from ground shaking in the next 50 years. Last updated 6 years ago, these new maps were developed with new ground motion models and compare changes between the 2008 maps and the 2014 ones.

The highest risk is on the west coast, intermountain west, and several clusters in the central and eastern United States. That really hasn’t changed since the 2008 map; instead, the potential severity and strength of earthquakes was upgraded for those areas based on new data. For example, risk was upgraded in the eastern United States and the New Madrid Zone based in part on recent earthquakes there.

The Pacific Northwest’s risk was upgraded due to similarities between its seismic hazards and those of Japan and Chile, both of which experienced very strong earthquakes in the past several years. New faults recently discovered in parts of California lead to increased hazard estimates there.

The report is essential for anyone involved in risk analysis, earthquake resistant construction and engineering, building codes, or emergency preparedness planning.

Alaska Shield 2014

Release date: MARCH 20, 2014
FEMA Release Number: 14-2

A large earthquake in Alaska, especially in winter, would require a different type of response than most areas of the nation. FEMA Region X is participating in a series of exercises that will test the ability of the federal government to respond to major disasters in Alaska.

The largest of the exercises is Alaska Shield 2014. This full-scale emergency response exercise, occurring in late March of 2014 that will test the plans and actions of the State of Alaska, FEMA, territorial governments, private sector companies, international partners, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions and its partners.

“We do not know when the next earthquake or tsunami will take place, but it will depend on our collective and individual preparedness to reduce our vulnerability.” said FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy. “It is imperative that we work together in advance of an event to make sure that all of our systems are working together smoothly and seamlessly”.

This exercise will coincide with 50th anniversary commemoration events of the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake. The earthquake scenario is designed to be of sufficient complexity to disrupt the States essential services, making it difficult for communities to obtain outside assistance but allow life safety activities to resume.

A Full-Scale Exercise tests plans and actions during the initial response phase of a disaster. It also tests the ability to stabilize the situation and meet immediate essential needs during a major disruptive event, as well as ensure recovery efforts can begin.

For more information about the exercise follow #AKShield, @AlaskaDHSEM and @FEMARegion10 on Twitter.

The Great NorthEast ShakeOut

If you live in one of the six New England states or New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, mark your calendars! Join millions of people who will Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:17 a.m. on October 17. The Great NorthEast ShakeOut, a regional opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes, is organized to encourage you, your community, and your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.

The website has a wealth of resources and planning documents, including a ShakeOut Drill Manual for non-profits and other organizations. Participate and prepare! And then share your drill stories and photos on the State Heritage Emergency Partnership blog.