Italy's Earthquake Highlights Dangers of California’s Old Brick Buildings

Seismic experts are warning that the devastation witnessed in central Italy last week could be a foreshadowing for California if it doesn’t fix some of its own structural flaws.

Throughout the state, unreinforced brick structures like those just flattened in Amatrice abound. San Francisco and Los Angeles forced property owners to retrofit or destroy many of these problematic buildings years ago, but in cities like San Bernardino and Bakersfield, thousands remain.

“They are unbelievably dangerous buildings,” said structural engineer Kit Miyamoto with the California Seismic Safety Commission. “The things that we see [in Italy], there will be similar things that we see here.”

Retrofitting these structures may be less expensive than you think. And the payoffs can be huge. The Italian town of Norcia, which invested heavily in retrofitting programs after a 1997 quake, saw no deaths from the recent temblor at all.

Read more about the expert warnings here.

Image Credit: Flickr User imagineindia, via (CC BY 2.0)