You have specified the “Big One”, so a magnitude 7+ quake but possibly as big as a 9. So how big is that?
Richter Magnitude is logarithmic. Each number is 10 times the previous number, so a magnitude 6 is 10 times a magnitude 5. A magnitude 7 is 100 times a magnitude 5. A magnitude 8 is 1000 times a magnitude 5. A magnitude 9 is 10,000 times a magnitude 5.
Such a quake will likely be the greatest tragedy in our nations history. It’s personal and economic impact will likely take decades to repair. It will potentially cost trillions of dollars by the time all is said and done. It’s that bad.
Most who leave the area won’t continue to pay their house payments for very long and bank defaults could potentially occur on millions of residences.
Most everything you use [newsletter_lock] will shut down within one week or less. Your best bet is to find your way to a new and safer location – either by emergency transport ship if they make them available or by train if they can operate or if any airport remains open, fly out of the area and preferably as soon as possible.
Fly to Phoenix, or Seattle, or anywhere. Then plan a flight to family or friends anywhere in the country. From a new undamaged location you can connect with relatives and relocate for as long as necessary.
The location of the epicenter of the quake makes a huge difference on its impact and damage.
If it is near to Los Angeles, or another major city, freeways, roads, and bridges will likely be damaged and closed. If they’re not damaged, then they are still useless if connecting routes are closed or damaged. There will be pandemonium while people try to figure a way out.
Any damaged route will remain closed until inspected and found to be safe. This means aftershocks may delay repairs potentially for a considerable time.
Water lines will be broken- just like what we have experienced in the last two years but thousands of times worse.
Remember that even if your home or street remains undamaged, if a water main bringing your water ruptures miles away you still won’t have water. The same will be true with sewer mains and underground gas lines.
Without viable roads, truck traffic will cease. Food stores will run out of fresh food and water will be rationed. Soon after canned foods will also run out. Chances are ATMs won’t work and banks won’t be open if their data connection is interrupted.
Shipping of automobiles and containers into our ports will be redirected to other ports, delaying the arrival of any goods coming from any Pacific manufacturing. This will also have huge national economic impact.
Soon after, marauders may begin to search for food, water, valuables, and looting and violence will begin. You won’t want to be there when they arrive. Eventually they will visit your house looking to see what they can find. If you don’t believe in owning a gun, rest assured that outlaws will have guns- they ALWAYS do, but you won’t have any way to defend yourself, or your family so best you leave.
When can you come back? If it’s the worst scenario? Maybe never. Street repair, sewer and water line repair will take years, perhaps decades. We might have hundreds of thousands of linear miles of streets to repair. Those tall earthquake resistant buildings downtown may be tilted and need to be brought down.
What if it’s not so bad? Chances are your employer won’t be back in business anytime soon. It will still require massive amounts of money to repair everything. But you will know from what you read and hear if it’s safe to come back.
I wish this were a more optimistic article. We have no idea when a large quake will happen here. Most of us ignore the possibility and go on with our daily lives. I am just as guilty of this as you might be. I still live here in California. For the sake of all of us, I hope it never happens, but I know it will. It is only a matter of time. We live in a seismically active zone. Earthquakes happen.
So what are your thoughts on the Big One?