knowledge, as does the private sector, especially in the area of building design. Altogether, the contributors to reducing earthquake losses constitute a complex enterprise that goes far beyond the scope of NEHRP. But NEHRP provides an important focus for this far-flung endeavor. The committee considers that an analysis to determine whether coordination among all organizations that contribute to NEHRP could be improved would be useful and timely.
Implementing NEHRP Knowledge
The United States had not experienced a great earthquake since 1964, when Alaska was struck by a magnitude-9.2 event. The damage in Alaska was relatively light because of the sparse population. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was the most recent truly devastating U.S. shock, as recent destructive earthquakes have been only moderate in size. Consequently, a sense has developed that the country can cope effectively with the earthquake threat and is, in fact, “resilient.” However, coping with moderate events may not be a true indicator of preparedness for a great one, as demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina. The central United States last experienced a devastating sequence of great earthquakes in 1811-1812 in the Mississippi Valley area centered on New Madrid, MO. The East Coast was shocked in 1886 by an earthquake near magnitude-7 at Charleston, SC. These events are now far from the consciousness of the public, and little has been done to prepare for similar events in these regions in the future. The committee believes that efforts should be expanded to anticipate the effects and disruptions that could be caused by a great U.S. earthquake, especially an event in the central or eastern United States where little preparation has been undertaken.
Most critical decisions that reduce earthquake vulnerability and manage earthquake risk are made in the private sector by individuals and companies. The information provided by NEHRP, if made available in an understandable format, and accompanied by diffusion processes, can greatly assist citizens in their decision-making. For example, maps of active faults, unstable ground, and historic seismicity can influence where people choose to live, and maps of relative ground shaking can guide building design.
NEHRP will have accomplished its fundamental purpose—an earthquake-resilient nation—when those responsible for earthquake risk and for managing the consequences of earthquake events use the knowledge and services created by NEHRP and other related endeavors to make our communities more earthquake resilient. Resiliency requires awareness of earthquake risk, knowing what to do in response to that risk, and doing it. But providing information is not enough to achieve resilience—the