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Northridge Earthquake: Lifeline Performance and Post-Earthquake Response.

pdf icon Northridge Earthquake: Lifeline Performance and Post-Earthquake Response. (43272 K)
Schiff, A. J.

NIST GCR 97-712; 336 p. April 1997.


National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD

Available from:

National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
Telephone: 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000;
Fax: 703-605-6900.
Order number: PB97-167373


earthquakes; lifelines


The Northridge earthquake of January 17, 1994 with estimated direct losses of about $20 billion, caused the greatest financial losses of any natural disaster in the U.S. since 1906. It produced the storngest ground motions ever instrumentally recorded in an urban setting in North America. Casualties included 33 dead, more than 7000 injures, and over 20,000 left homeless. Most lifelines experienced some damage and disruption. The earthquake was especially disruptive to transportation and water systems and cause extensive damage to power systems. This monograph describes the earthquake performance, emergency response, and recovery for the following lifeline systems: electric power, water, wastewater, communications, roads and bridges, railroads, ports, airports, gas, liquid fuels. In addition, the impact of lifeline disruption on emergency response capabilities of hospitals and fire suppression elements of the emergency response community are discussed. For each lifeline, damage, emergency response methods used to cope with damage and disruption, and the restoration and recovery processes are described. Implemented and proposed changes in equipment and facility design specifications, operating procedures, and emergency response plans are described. Each section summarize the lessons learned, makes recommendations to improve system earthquake response and identifies needed research.