In the last few blogs, we tried to explain how recent earthquakes tripled the likelihood of a large rumbler happening on our nearby San Andreas Fault.  Today we’d like to describe what will likely happen to Los Angelinos if the earthquake that we all have been waiting for, the one we call, “The Big One”, were to happen a year, a week, or in a minute from now.  Are you prepared?

Our city of Los Angeles typically experiences a huge earthquake every 100 years and we are long overdue for a Big One.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Los Angeles has a 31% chance of experiencing a very large earthquake in the next 30 years.[1] 

The degree to which such a large quake will be catastrophic, cannot be understated.  It will be terrifyingly severe.  According to the professionals who predict such a quake, this is how your life will be impacted when the Big One will happen:[2]

  • As you’re sitting in your office chair on a typical midweek afternoon, the first thing that will hit you is a sound wave that is below your hearing range. It will not be enough to move a pen on your desk, but it will make you feel slightly ill.
  • As more quake energy is released, the second wave that hits will feel like incredibly loud tossing and shaking, the kind you can’t outrun. If you are lucky, you will drop, cover, and hold on to something under your desk.  If you try to run outside, you will likely be thrown to the ground, twist an ankle, break a leg, or be hit from falling masonry or glass.  Stay inside, under your desk, and hold on!
  • After 60 seconds of intense shaking, you may be able to crawl out from under your desk and run outside. You will be met with air that is thick with dust.  Security alarms will wail loudly and you will see broken gas, sewage, and water lines mixing – you may even see burning water!  But wait, the shaking will undoubtedly start again very soon in the form of multiple strong aftershocks and you will need to take shelter again, and again. 
  • You and 10 million other Southern Californians will try to call or text friends and loved ones. In all likelihood, none will be successful, as phone, internet, and power, will all be out.  The airports will close, as will most shops, gas stations, and public buildings.  No trains.  No street lights means few cars will be moving.  Survivors will be milling about in shock, many crying.  As the Big One hit when you were in your office, you will only get home after walking for miles in a nightmare landscape. 
  • When you are lucky enough to get home that day, and if your vulnerable home was not professionally retrofitted and strengthened against earthquakes, you will see your house’s windows shattered, its walls cracked, the roof in ruins, and debris all around. Your home may even literally have slid off of its foundation, and everything in it, has crashed to the floor.
  • As hours turn into days, you and others around you may quickly run out of clean water. If the quake happens in the Summer, you will be hot.  If the quake happens in Winter, you will be cold.  Unless you have a portable generator, you will not be able to charge your phone, have a light to read by, or any heat to cook your food.  Those first days and nights will be terrifying, and even if you need professional help, it may not find its way to you or your family.

And that’s the way the Big One will play out in those first hours and days.  The Big One doesn’t care whether or not you are ready for it.  The Big One is coming at you from the San Andreas fault — only 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles — but although you may not know when it will hit, there are concrete steps you can take to help protect your home and your loved ones:

  1. Prepare an earthquake emergency supply kit and place it in an area where it is easy to grab during an emergency.
  2. Create an emergency game-plan for you and your loved ones, designating a central meeting point for everyone to gather once the emergency has passed.
  3. Hire retrofitting experts to evaluate how to best strengthen and protect your home from a catastrophic structural failure that will threaten life and property.


The Los Angeles Times recently cautioned that “A $4,000 retrofit job now could head off a $400,000 repair job after the earthquake”[3] and that is sound advice

The specialists at Weinstein Construction are experts at seismic retrofitting and can help with all your earthquake retrofitting Los Angeles work, from start to finish.  We are also experts at house leveling, french drainage installation, basement waterproofing, and foundation cracks repair.

If you think that your home or commercial property may require Soft Story retrofitting Los Angeles services, call Weinstein Construction today at (800) 862-6582 to schedule a no obligation, free inspection and estimate.  Be prepared and have peace of mind when the next “Big One” hits!


[1] “What is the probability that an earthquake will occur in the Area? In the San Francisco Bay area?” U.S. Geological Survey, available at: Los Angeles  

2 NPR podcasts, “The Big One:  Your Survival Guide,” California Earthquake Authority, available here:

3 Rong-Gong Lin II, “What to do before and during a big earthquake”, Los Angeles Times,