Most of the Bay Area roads, bridges, water systems, dams and levees fared well in Sunday's 6.0 earthquake near Napa, but the damage in the picturesque Wine Country town was a jolting reminder of the vulnerability of public services for 7 million people. A Big One -- such as a 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault that runs beneath heavily populated Oakland and Berkeley -- would inflict more damage to key infrastructure, experts said. — San Jose Mercury News
Overall, the damage caused by the Napa earthquake could have been a lot worse. But a Los Angeles Times article documenting how even retrofitted historic buildings were damaged showcases the profound vulnerability of older structures in California. According to the article: "The destruction highlights one of the greatest fears of seismic engineers — that the retrofitting of unreinforced masonry buildings still leaves weak joints between bricks." Just yesterday, another LA Times article claimed that thousands of brick buildings across the state have not been retrofitted, disproportionately in low-income areas. And while low-cost retrofitting certainly mitigates the risk of a building "pancaking," but doesn't preclude other potential dangers like falling bricks or collapsed walls. Additionally, commentators are pointing to the Napa earthquake as a "wake-up call" to officials that the state's aging infrastructure is in desperate need of an upgrade. For example, a Forbes article detailed that nearly 35 million people drive over dangerously vulnerable bridges in Los Angeles every day. But California is notoriously broke and Emir Macari, a member of the state Seismic Safety Commission and a professor at Cal State University Sacramento, is quoted saying that statewide regulations would end up being "a huge economic loss for the state."
Check out the dangerous bridges near you with this useful map: http://saveourbridges.com/new/map.php