The 7.8 earthquake in the Middle East is a reminder from Mother Nature of our vulnerability in California. Knowing our environment could prevent the Santa Clarita community from potential catastrophic events.
I remember in 1963 watching from our Los Angeles rooftop the breach of the nearby Baldwin Hills dam killing five residents.
Santa Clarita is near the historic site of the 1928 St. Francis Dam failure, which drowned more than 400 people as it flowed 54 miles to the Pacific Ocean.
Hovering over our shoulder now is the Castaic dam, which holds 400 times the volume of water contained behind the Baldwin Hills and St. Francis dams. Engineers claim the Castaic dam can survive up to an 8.0 earthquake.
If Castaic dam ruptures, if would follow along Interstate 5, turning toward the ocean and following a similar flow as the St. Francis Dam along State Route 126 to the ocean. Northern L.A. County has now grown into a highly populated and traveled area.
I am not saying drain the reservoir, but we should be better prepared should there be a seismic event that might lead to a catastrophic flood.
Here is what I would recommend in the event of a large earthquake:
• Immediate inspection of the Castaic dam and its integrity with broadcast and updates to the community.
• Closure and evacuation of I-5 and SR 126.
• Movement of citizens to higher grounds.
• Knowledge of schools and shopping areas that may be affected.
• A warning system (we use to have air raid sirens) alerting the public of imminent flooding.
• Training of specific water rescue personnel.
• And about 100 other things we can do to prevent loss of life.
In case of a sudden event like an earthquake, we will not know how much time we have should the dam rupture, but for whatever time is given, being prepared will save lives.
This is not the first time I have written about this threat, as I have been called “The sky is falling Dorio.” Prevention, though, has been a part of my vocation, so I hope the public will heed Mother Nature’s present warning.
Dr. Gene Dorio