English: Map showing the epicentre of the 1999 İzmit earthquake. Türkçe: 1999 Gölcük Depremi merkezi ve etki alanı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I spent a lot of time in Turkey for personal reasons and I got to know the country and I met many people along the way. For one thing, it’s a gorgeous country and they have amazing food, however, they are plagued with an active fault that produced two very serious earthquakes that toppled many buildings where many lives were lost. Granted many of those who perished were in buildings with un-reinforced masonry, however, it still doesn’t discount the fact that many people died.
I have heard push back on preparations in the Northwest after referencing these incredible death tolls. In fact, some Americans think the Turkish deaths were a result of older building codes — Many Turkish buildings were older and the US building standards are much better.
Not so fast… not really… not always.
I know in Portland that geologists worry about roughly 1,600 structures in the downtown area. These are older brick buildings, like the ones in parts of Turkey, that couldn’t handle significant shaking. The earthquake in 1999 was only a 7.6… in the Northwest we are talking about a 9.0+. That is exponentially worse than the Turkish quakes.
These brick buildings in the Northwest will be no match for megaquake. I know the going theory is duck and cover, however, in my personal (unprofessional opinion) if you are in an un-reinforced brick building…. cover your head and run… run for your life.
I knew of three people in the Gölcük earthquake (pronounced Gul-juck) — one person was on the 6th floor of his building and it collapsed as he slept. Amazingly enough he rode the collapsing debris down, dusted himself off and began searching for neighbors in the rubble. I had another friend who was on the second floor of her building, asleep in her bed, and the building collapsed on her. Her will to dig won out and in shock she dusted herself off and staggered down the street counting her blessings…. the last person I met was a survivor… a sole survivor… he lost 9 people in the earthquake. I was told he stood in line and the government issued him 9 death certificates. He lost his parents, siblings, a spouse, and two young nieces.
Anyone reading this, please take these warnings seriously and prepare. It may save your life.
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