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January 4, 2011 7:08 AM CST

Miyamoto International Symposium at UCLA Focuses on Earthquake Risk and Mitigation in Southern California

A major earthquake in the LA region is not a question of if, but when


At an Earthquake Symposium at UCLA, Tom Murayama, Director of Office of Statewide Operations for the California Emergency Management Agency, said that "A major earthquake in the LA region is not a question of if, but when," and added that "coping with the immediate effects of an earthquake and its aftershocks can only be done through a public and private partnership." His remarks were made at a Symposium sponsored by NEES@UCLA, Miyamoto International and Tower General Contractors to an audience of 200 experts that explored recent earthquakes in places like Baja California, Haiti and Chile and addressed practical solutions to mitigate the human and economic damage from such events.

Peter Yanev, World Bank Consultant, speaking about his recent experience in assessing the damage in the Chilean earthquake, said, "There are major lessons to be learned from Chile, among them are the need for closer cooperation between government, business and the public sectors to modify building codes and insist on their enforcement. Most damage can be prevented," he said, "if the relevant parties move quickly to act in concert rather than pointing fingers at each other." He added that, "While codes protect lives, they don't protect your investment. That requires enhancement and enforcement of design standards and investing in infrastructure support and technology."

In a presentation about his reconstruction experience in Haiti, Kit Miyamoto, President and CEO of Miyamoto International, said, "The devastation in Haiti is unprecedented; that said, we have made tremendous progress in the last year working with Haitian Public Works, UNOPS and PADF. The Miyamoto team has been working to build and repair residential housing enabling families to move back into their homes from tents. We have had to develop new methods and new engineering solutions to address large scale damage. Within the next few weeks 2,000 new homes will be repaired and most of the work has been done by local workers and engineers that we have trained." He added, "What we have learned is that not only are countries like Haiti woefully unprepared to cope with an earthquake of this magnitude, but cities like LA are also unprepared and could suffer major losses of human life and major damage to infrastructure. There is no silver bullet solution, but the key is to apply what we already know to prevent what we know will be."

Some of the other featured speakers were:

Thomas Heaton, Ph.D., Geophysics, Director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, who spoke on the subject of "What Earthquake Science Tells Us about LA's Risk," and Jerry Nickelsburg, Senior Economist, UCLA Anderson Forecast, who spoke on the subject of "The Economic Impact of a Major Earthquake."

The program also included two expert panels on "Practical Solutions to Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction," and "How Can We Encourage Increasing LA's Earthquake Resilience?"

About the Author

Miyamoto International is a global earthquake and structural engineering firm that provides critical services to help sustain industries and communities around the world. Visit to learn more.


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