‘Inhabiting the Quake:’ A Case Study of the 2010-2011 Christchurch Earthquake Series and its Application to Seattle
Susan Glenn University of Washington Candidate for Bachelor of Arts in Public Health, 2014
â€˜Inhabiting the Quakeâ€™: A Case Study of the 2010-2011 Christchurch Earthquake Series and its Application to Seattle A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of: Bachelor of Arts in Public Health University of Washington, June 2014 Dr. Clarence Spigner, Adviser
Clarence, thank you for being my editor extraordinaire, advising me during uncertainty and challenging me to think independently. Iain and Josephine, thank you for your support while in New Zealand. Your guidance was instrumental in the formation of this project. Sara, Lucy and Joanne, thank you taking the time to tell me your story. Your experiences, knowledge and memories had great influence on this project. New Zealand, thank you for the hospitality, the beautiful scenery and the welcoming people I had the great opportunity to meet along the way. Mom, for all the times you have listened to me dream and doubt, thank you. For proofreading, for googling the pre-flight safety demonstration and for many long conversations about this project, thank you. Your unconditional support has brought me to where I am today.
In memory of the 185 people lost in the February 22, 2011 Christchurch Earthquake: Dr. Maysoon Mahdi Abbas, age 61 • Lalaine Collado Agatep, age 38 • Dr. Husam Sabar Al-Ani, age 55 • Jane-Marie Alberts, age 44 • Mary Louise Anne Bantillo Amantillo, age 23 • Emmabelle Cabahug Anoba, age 26 • Jayden Brytane Andrews-Howland • Marina Arai, age 19 • Linda Isobel Arnold, age 57 • Pamela Christina Barkle, age 72 • Dr. Dominic Joseph Gerard Bell, age 45 • Valquin Descalsota Bensurto, age 23 • Heidi Julie Berg, age 36 • Matthew Lyle Beaumont, age 31 • Carey Stuart Bird, age 48 • Andrew James Llewellyn Bishop, age 33 • Nina Jane Bishop, age 32 • Iris Botting, age 88 • Pam Maree Brien, age 54 • Rhys Frank Brookbanks, age 25 • Melanie Jane Brown, age 54 • Henry Ross Bush, age 75 • Ivy Jane Cabunilas, age 33 • Yu Cai, age 31 • Ian Neville Caldwell, age 47 • Cristiano Carazo-Chandler, age 35 • Helen Margaret Chambers, age 44 • Yang Chen, Age 29 • John Kristoffer Villegas Chua, age 24 • Susan Patricia Chuter, age 52 • Stephen Cochrane, aged 43 • Rachel Elizabeth Conley, age 27 • Philip Graeme Reeve Coppeard, age 41 • Patrick John Coupe, age 46 • Donald Ashby Cowey, age 82 • Andrew Christian Ross Craig, age 46 • John Barry Craig, age 67 • Estelle Marie Cullen, age 32 • Dr. Tamara Cvetanova, age 42 • Betty Irene Dickson, age 82 • Joanna Clare Didham, age 35 • Jennifer Ann Donaldson, age 55 • Paul Clarence Dunlop, age 67 • Marielle Falardeau, age 60 • Dian Mary Falconer, age 54 • Adam Stephen Fisher, age 27 • Maureen Valerie Fletcher, age 75 • Ian Foldesi, age 64 • Jewel Jose Francisco, age 26 • Samuel Reese Gibb, age 27 • Jaime Robert McDowell Gilbert, age 22 • Joanne May Giles, age 60 • Baxtor Warwick Gowland, age 5 months • Elizabeth Jane Grant, age 51 • Natasha Sarah Hadfield, age 38 • Yuki Hamasaki, age 23 • Xiling Han, age 25 • Tamara Lia Harca, age 59 • Jayden Harris, age 8 months • Yuki Hasumoto, age 22 • Yumiko Hata, age 29 • Miki Hayasaka, age 37 • Wen He, age 25 • Jen Hii, age 34 • Yuko Hirabayashi, age 28 • Yoshiko Hirauchi, age 61 • Marion Isabella McKirdy Hilbers, age 49 • Christopher Grant Homan, age 34 • Amanda Jane Hooper, age 30 • Megumi Horita, age 19 • Hifumi Hoshiba, age 41 • Siwen Huo, age 28 • Haruki Hyakuman, age 27 • Rika Hyuga, age 30 • Toshiko Imaoka, age 34 • Gabi Ingel, age 22 • Thanydha Intarangkun, age 36 • Tomoki Ishikuro, age 19 • Kyle Brandon Jack-Midgley, age 27 • Man Jin, age 26 • Kayo Kanamaru, age 19 • Kyoko Kawahata, age 20 • Beverley Faye Kennedy, age 60 • Saori Kikuda, age 19 • Yasuhiro Kitagawa, age 39 • Chang Lai, age 27 • Wai Fong Lau, age 87 • Hsin Hung Lee, age 32 • Normand Lee, age 25 • Jin-Yan Leng, age 30 • Ofer Levy, age 22 • De Li, age 18 • Wanju Li, age 44 • Xia Li, age 42 • Phimphorn Liangchuea, age 41 • Adrienne Isobel Lindsay, age 54 • Haruthaya Luangsurapeesakul, age 32 • Shawn Lucas, age 40 • Scott William Emerson Lucy, age 38 • Catherine McNicol Lunney, age 62 • Donna Merrie Manning, age 43 • Kelly Lynn Maynard, age 43 • Philip John McDonald, age 57 • Matthew Stuart McEachen, age 25 • Owen Thomas McKenna, age 40 • Teresa McLean, age 40 • Heather Marilyn Meadows, age 66 • Ezra Mae Sabayton Medalle, age 24 • Janet Dawn Meller, age 58 • Adrienne Meredith, age 36 • Ofer Binyamin Mizrahi, age 22 • Kelsey Sinitta Moore, age 18 • Emi Murakami, age 19 • Jillian Lesley Murphy, age 48 • Melissa Ann Neale, age 41 • Erica Avir Reyes Nora, age 20 • Blair James O’Connor, age 34 • John Joseph O’Connor, age 40 • Noriko Otsubo, age 41 • Linda Rosemary Parker, age 50 • Joseph Tehau Pohio, age 40 • Taneysha Gail Rose Prattley, age 5 weeks • Wanpen Preeklang, age 45 • Jessie Lloyd Redoble, age 30 • Deborah Ann Roberts, age 39 • Joseph Stuart Routledge, age 74 • Lucy Routledge, age 74 • Saya Sakuda, age 19 • Yoko Sakurai, age 27 • Jeff Pelesa Sanft, age 32 • Gillian Sayers, age 43 • Susan Lyn Selway, age 50 • Emma Shaharudin, age 35 • Dr. Allan Alexander Sinclair, age 45 • Elizabeth Sinclair, age 76 • Christopher Patrick Smith, age 48 • Christine Patricia Stephenson, age 61 • Reta Stewart, age 81 • Beverley May Stick, age 71 • Earl Nicholas Stick, age 78 • Neil Glyn Stocker, age 58 • Michael Stuart Coulter Styant, age 41 • Rhea Mae Sumalong, age 25 • Yoko Suzuki, age 31 • Te Taki (Wally) Tairakena, age 60 • Hiroko Tamano, age 43 • Brian Warrington Taylor, age 66 • Isaac James Thompson, age 21 • Desley Ann Thomson, age 32 • Lesley Jane Thomson, age 55 • Gregory James Tobin, age 25 • Shane Robert Tomlin, age 42 • Elsa Torres de Frood, age 53 • Asuka Tsuchihashi, age 28 • Hui Yun Tu, age 22 • Yurika Uchihira, age 19 • Mandy Uriao, age 38 • Valeri Volnov, age 41 • Jittra Waithayatadapong, age 40 • Limin Wang, age 32 • Tao Wang, age 29 • Graham Weild, age 77 • Joan Dorothy Weild, age 76 • Lisa Patricia Willems, age 43 • Julie Kathryn Wong, age 37 • Siriphan Wongbunngam, age 27 • Murray John Wood, age 56 • Owen Morris Wright, age 40 • Stephen Robert Wright, age 46 • Paul Khye Soon Wu, age 60 • Sisi Xin, age 28 • Linlin Xu, age 26 • Xiujuan Xu, age 47 • Ayako Yamaguchi, age 30 • Mina Yamatani, age 19 • Didem Yaman, age 31 • Caiying Ye, age 27 • Saki Yokota, age 19 • Gilhwan Yu, age 23 • Naon Yu, age 21 • Hui Zhang, age 34 • Weiyu Zhang, age 30 • Di-Di Zhang, age 23 • Yantao Zhong, age 31 • Xioa-Li Zhou, age 26
05 Introduction 07
Part 1: Earthquakes as a Public Health Threat
Part 2: Earthquakes in the Canterbury Plains Region • Liquefaction
Part 3: Building Standards in New Zealand • Buildings in Christchurch • Christchurch Televison Building • Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Part 4: What this means for Seattle • Applicability to Seattle • Seattle’s Earthquake Risk • Building Standards • University of Washington • The Future of Building Standards in Seattle
tepping off the bus and turning onto the deserted street cloaked in an eerie silence, it felt as if the earthquake had just occurred. Crumbled buildings surrounded by chain link fences held personal belongings hostage. A backpack lay in a building’s rubble, a bookcase hung out of the second story - still full of books, temporary memorials turned permanent on fences and walls. I stood in the stillness where
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nearly three years ago to the day the ground shook so violently it obliterated the majority of a city. Three years and the central city still looks like a massive construction project. My shock over the current state of the city slowly turned to respect and curiosity as I learned about the resilience of a shaken people and innovative reconstruction efforts aimed at ‘inhabiting the quake.’ From January to March of 2014, I had
the opportunity to study in New Zealand. While I remembered the February 22, 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, I was unaware of the enormous and continued public health impacts it had. As I have a longstanding interest in disasters and the complex response and recovery that follows, I was intrigued by the February 22, 2011 earthquake’s impacts and sought to learn more.
While in Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region, I was able to hear firsthand how not just the February 22, 2011 earthquake, but the entire earthquake series impacted residents. While these informal conversations were enlightening, I thought my research would be better served by sitting down with residents and discussing the earthquakes and their experiences in depth. Through my academic program in New Zealand, I was able to connect with two women working in the earthquake recovery. The first, Joanne Stevenson, is a PhD Candidate at the University of Canterbury. Her research with Resilient Organizations focuses on the role networks played in organizational recovery following the earthquakes. The second, Lucy D’Aeth, is a public health specialist with All Right?, a mental health campaign established in Christchurch following the earthquakes to promote mental wellbeing. I continued to research others who worked in the earthquake recovery and after an internet search I found Sara McBride, a PhD Candidate at Massey University in Wellington. Sara is originally from Washington State and is conducting her doctoral research in New Zealand. Her research uses Christchurch as a case
study on how to conduct effective earthquake education in Eastern Washington communities with a low risk of earthquakes, but that would suffer high impact from a seismic event. Interviewing these three women was informative and introduced me to the widespread impacts of the earthquakes. Their narrative is incorporated throughout this paper and offers a unique perspective of the issue. Upon returning to Seattle, I conducted an in depth literature review to further my knowledge on the public health implications of earthquakes, and specifically, how Christchurch was affected by its earthquake series. As I conducted these interviews and heard about the unique situation in Christchurch, I became interested in how the earthquakes in Christchurch could inform earthquake preparation and response in other regions of the world. In the following pages, you will find a compilation of my research that will explore the public health impacts of earthquakes, Canterbury’s earthquake series, performance of buildings during the quakes in Christchurch and how Seattle can better prepare for earthquakes through evaluating Canterbury’s experience.
(Enchanted Learning, 2002) 06 | Inhabiting the Quake
01. Earthquakes as a Public Health Threat
arthquakes are fairly common in certain regions of the world and can threaten the public’s health both directly and indirectly. While people generally think of the direct aftermath of earthquakes, such as deaths and injuries, the public health impacts of earthquakes are much more widespread. Lucy explained the complex nature and long-lasting impacts of earthquakes when she said, “what we’ve learned over the past three years is that you get these immediate impacts and then it takes years and years to recover from a disaster, [with] lots of social impacts along the way” (L. D’Aeth, personal communication, February 3, 2014). There are numerous direct impacts that can be caused by earthquakes, including injuries and deaths, illness, psychological impacts and damage to healthcare systems’ ability to function. The following section will give an overview of an earthquake’s potential impacts, both short term and long term. Death and Injury Injuries and deaths are a direct impact of earthquakes. These often occur due to building collapse, falling objects or falls. As Kimberly Shoaf and Steven Rottman (2000) explain, “the combination of a large
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earthquake, in close proximity to a population center, built upon soft soil, using construction practices which do not employ anti-seismic reinforcements, can result in unimaginably large number of fatalities” (p. 58). Non-fatal injuries sustained in earthquakes are usually associated more with the ground shaking that occurs. People suffering from non-fatal injuries are more likely to have been hit by falling objects or experienced a fall during the quake than be injured by a building collapse. Not only can the ground movement cause injuries and deaths, but tsunamis and fires following the earthquake can cause casualties. Particularly if there is extensive debris, fires can spread quickly if the fire department has limited access to the area due to debris blockage (Shoaf and Rottman, 2000). Injuries and deaths are generally an immediate impact from earthquakes and can devastate communities. Communicable Disease Communicable diseases can also be a direct impact of an earthquake on population health. While communicable diseases are often thought of as a major risk following disasters, historically outbreaks have actually
been quite rare. Shoaf and Rottman (2000) explain “in order for the risk of epidemic to exist, the disease of concern needs to exist in the population prior to the disaster” (p. 59). While the 2010 Haitian earthquake demonstrated that importation of disease via disaster relief workers is possible, Shoaf and Rottman’s analysis remains primarily true. For example, infectious disease outbreaks have not occurred in developed countries following disasters. This can be attributed to the limited burden of infectious diseases in developed countries. If there is an outbreak, the strength of the public health system prior to the disaster is a significant indicator of the country’s ability to control the disease (Shoaf and Rottman, 2000). Acute Illness Acute illness can also be a direct result of earthquakes. For example, during the Northridge earthquake in California in 1994, dust generated from earthquake triggered landslides released Coccidioides immitis spores into the environment. These spores were carried by the wind to populated areas in Ventura County. Inhalation of the spores can cause a flu-like illness, or in more serious cases, the infection can spread to other body organs
and systems. The airborne spores resulted in 203 reported cases of coccidioidomycosis, or Valley Fever, an acute illness. Of these cases, 55 patients were hospitalized and three died. While Coccidioides immitis is endemic to the southwestern U.S., Central and South America, only 60 cases were reported annually in Ventura County in 1992 and 1993. In the eight weeks following the earthquake, 203 were identified. This spike in cases can be attributed to the soil disturbance, and subsequent landslides, caused by the earthquake (Jibson, 2002). Psychological Impact In addition to exacerbated physical disease, earthquakes have psychological effects as well. As earthquakes generally affect large populations of people, many people suffering from minor psychological problems after an earthquake can be expected. Depending on the severity of the earthquake’s impact on an individual and their family as well as their mental health history, some individuals may suffer severe mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression (Shoaf and Rottman, 2000). Compromised Healthcare Systems Earthquakes can directly affect the healthcare system, posing a widespread threat to public health. Hospitals, healthcare centers and their staff undergo the same damaging effects of earthquakes, meaning that facilities may be damaged or personnel may be compromised by injury or death. Earthquakes not only
damage buildings, but also the physical infrastructure of a place. Healthcare centers may lose water supplies, electricity and other necessities. Loss of access to medical records or limited functioning of labs are some examples of the issues that earthquakes pose to the functioning of the medical system. In addition, staff who are not injured may have other issues that will interfere with their ability to work, such as the loss of family members, damage to their household and psychological trauma (Shoaf and Rottman, 2000). These impacts greatly hinder the medical system’s ability to function at a time when it is needed most. Due to loss of facilities, inability to access the facilities, an overloaded healthcare system or loss of the medical staff, the delivery of primary healthcare can be disrupted. This particularly threatens those with chronic conditions that require regular medical appointments or prescriptions. Those with chronic conditions may experience exacerbation of their symptoms due to loss of primary care and added stress (Shoaf and Rottman, 2000). Loss of Normal Living Conditions and Disparities in Recovery Loss of normal living conditions also have the potential to impact public health. While much of the population will suffer economic losses following a big earthquake, there are disparities in economic recovery among
groups. Some people will recover more quickly than others. For example, those who had more resources before the earthquake are likely to recover more quickly. Populations who have access to disaster assistance also tend to recover better than those who didn’t. A study of the 1989 earthquake in Spitak, Armenia showed that those who experienced high post-disaster stress had lower incidence of disease two years after the quake if they received disaster assistance than those who didn’t. These impacts affect the public’s health and ability to recover from disaster (Shoaf and Rottman, 2000). Earthquakes threaten various aspects of public health. Attempting to study all the public health impacts of earthquakes requires in depth research and many volumes dedicated to the topic. Due to time and length limitations, this paper will focus on central themes that emerged through my interviews with various professionals, students and residents in Christchurch, New Zealand during January, February and March of 2014. The central theme explored in this paper will be the impact of building standards on public health. Rather than solely evaluating an event in the past, it is important to see how this event can be applied to the future. Therefore, Christchurch will be used as a case study and will then be applied to how a large earthquake will impact my earthquake prone home of Seattle, Washington. 08 | Inhabiting the Quake
Messages written on rocks in Christchurch voice messages of hope for the city following the February 22, 2011 earthquake.
02. Earthquakes in the Canterbury Plains Region
he nation of New Zealand is located on the ‘Ring of Fire’ - a string of volcanoes, mountain ranges and seismically active areas that are located on the surrounding edges of the Pacific Ocean (National Geographic). The Canterbury Plains region of New Zealand is located on the west coast of the nation’s South Island and stretches 180 kilometers in length. On September 4, 2010 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the region at 4:35 AM. The earthquake’s epicenter was in Darfield, 40 kilometers west of Christchurch, and was only 10 kilometers below the surface. The earthquake was the most damaging seismic event since the nation’s devastating Hawke’s Bay Earthquake in Napier in 1931. While the earthquake caused damage throughout the region, there were no deaths. The lack of casualties was likely due to the time of the earthquake. Being that the event was so early in the morning and few people were out on the streets, falling debris was less hazardous as it would be at midday. Much of the damage occurred in pre-1940s brick buildings (also known as unreinforced masonry buildings). The earthquake, an unusual event for the Canterbury region, lead to the discovery of a previously unknown fault, now known as the Greendale Fault. The earthquake’s movement broke the ground’s surface and created a breakage that extended for thirty kilometers. The earthquake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks.
On February 22, 2011 at 12:51 PM, a 6.3 earthquake occurred only five kilometers underground with an epicenter in Lyttelton, less than 10 kilometers from Christchurch City. Despite the smaller magnitude compared to the September earthquake, the shallow depth of the quake, the timing of the event and the weakened structures from the September earthquake caused severe damage, injuries and deaths. 185 people died during the earthquake while thousands others were injured (Eileen McSaveney, 2013). The earthquake was caused by another previously unknown fault line that is within six kilometers of the city center (GNS Science). The earthquake caused an exodus of approximately 70,000 people immediately following the quake and completely shut down the devastated central business district for two years (Eileen McSaveney, 2013). Following these two events, hundreds more aftershocks have followed, including another 6.3 magnitude earthquake on June 13, 2011. These endless aftershocks complicate the recovery efforts and stall the emotional healing of Canterbury’s residents. Lucy explains, “we were having a lot of aftershocks during this time… the June aftershock was actually as big as the February aftershock, it’s just that there was nothing left to fall down really, but it was still pretty horrible” (L. D’Aeth, personal communication, February 3, 2014). The constant aftershocks are a unique aspect of the
earthquake series and further the recovery situation.
Liquefaction Due to the formation of the Canterbury Plains via silt deposition from glacial rivers, much of the region’s soil is saturated. When an earthquake moves the soil, it forces the soil particles to rearrange and become more compact, compressing soil mass and causing the ground level to drop. When the particles rearrange, it forces the water that previously filled the space between soil particles to be displaced. The displaced water burst through cracks in the ground surface and causes a phenomenon of liquefied soil (Environment Canterbury). Because liquefaction damages the ground, changes ground levels and causes soil to liquefy, buildings and infrastructure can be severely damaged. During at least three of the Canterbury earthquakes, liquefaction was a huge initial problem. Many people in Canterbury weren’t aware of the risk of liquefaction. As Lucy put it, “we didn’t know that we lived on a swamp” (L. D’Aeth, personal communication, February 3, 2014). Without awareness of this issue among residents, liquefaction took many by surprise and was a repeated problem throughout the earthquake series. Sara offered an explanation of why liquefaction is so problematic: 10 | Inhabiting the Quake
“The difference is that between a storm coming through and between an earthquake, a storm affects what’s on top of the surface usually. You get storm drains and blocks and things, but it usually clears out very quickly. The difference with an earthquake is that it affects everything above and it affects everything below, especially in Christchurch. With the liquefaction… the city… liquefied and turned into Santa’s belly, just became this really gluggy, gluggy substance. And that destroyed all the infrastructure that took 120 years to build… [it] couldn’t withstand the amount of silt and water that came through and the amount of displacement” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014.). Due to the historical formation of the plains and current geological processes, liquefaction after the earthquakes caused massive amounts of damage in Canterbury. Liquefaction only added to the stress and severe damage following the three large earthquakes in 2010-2011. Liquefaction, however, was only part of the problem. After the earthquakes, focus shifted to the recovery and rebuild of the region. This included emphasizing construction of earthquake safe buildings and determining why some buildings failed.
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Liquefaction following an earthquake in Christchurch (NZ Raw, 2011).
The Christchurch Cathedral remains damaged three years after the February 22, 2011 earthquake.
03. Building Standards in New Zealand ‘Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do’
s a nation that experiences earthquakes often, New Zealand knows the power of a single building. Building collapse can quickly kill large numbers of people. In Christchurch, the Canterbury Television Building (CTV) collapse killed 115 of the 185 people who died in the quake (Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, 2012). As a result of historically experiencing structural damage and collapse following big earthquakes, New Zealand began drafting building codes in the early 1930s. By 1935, the building code law passed. The 1935 law required buildings to be constructed in a manner that allowed buildings to withstand the movement of an earthquake. Brick buildings were to be built in such a way that the building would move as one during a seismic event, usually resulting in the building being strapped together in some form. Following the 1935 building code, additional building requirements were implemented in 1965, 1976, 1984 and 1992. The goal in these codes varies depending on the magnitude of the quake. The 1992 code gave agency to builders in how they construct and design buildings as long as they ensure the building meets the requirements for each earthquake 13 | Inhabiting the Quake
severity level. In a moderate earthquake, the code’s goal is to prevent structural damage to the building. In a major earthquake, however, life is the main concern. While buildings may be badly damaged, the aim is to prevent them from collapsing or injuring those inside and ensuring that people inside can escape. While new buildings are subject to updated building codes, older buildings are not and therefore pose a particular threat during earthquakes. The safety of heritage buildings, as an important part of a city’s cultural identity, are often debated. While older buildings do have to meet a modified safety requirement, it is expected that following earthquakes they would be badly damaged and have to be demolished. The goal of the modified safety requirements is to prevent building collapse and minimize loss of life (Eileen McSaveney, 2013). Buildings in Christchurch Building damage following the Christchurch earthquakes, particularly the February 22, 2011 earthquake, was extensive. The number of homes damaged and needing either repairs or to be completely rebuilt exceeded 100,000. In
the Central Business District of Christchurch, over half the buildings suffered severe damage or collapse. Forty percent of heritage buildings within the city have been badly damaged or demolished. A total of twelve schools were relocated following the February earthquake with fifty-five percent of secondary students sharing their school with another school (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority). While the damage to the city as a whole was overwhelming, a few buildings were responsible for a disproportionate amount of deaths and injuries. CTV Building The CTV building, located in the Central Business District, collapsed during the February earthquake killing 115 people. The CTV building collapse had a major impact on Christchurch. During my time in Chirstchurch, it seemed everyone was impacted by the collapse, whether they knew someone who was killed directly or through friends and family. As Sara explained, “It killed 6 people I knew. It killed a couple [of] friends of mine” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014).
The outrage and tragedy of the building collapse led to an investigation into the collapse. The investigation launched after the earthquake found that the engineers constructing the building lacked sufficient experience and knowledge to construct the six-story building (Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, 2012). The report released following the investigation found several other failures that occurred in the planning and construction phases of the CTV building contributing to the collapse and resulting deaths. Sara said that due to the mistakes made during construction and lack of oversight, “we failed the 120 people who died in that building” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014). The CTV building is a clear example of the importance of building standards and the need for safety checks during the design and construction processes. The CTV and other building collapses sparked conversation about building safety. As Sara explained, “when you talk about building safety, people are like yawn, that’s really boring…. before Christchurch, there weren’t a lot of people talking about building safety” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014). After the earthquake, Christchurch became an example of a big earthquake causing building failure and mass casualties in a developed nation. Lucy explained the complexities of rebuilding Christchurch:
A sign commemorating the CTV building hangs on the fence A poem hanging on thethe fence surrounding site.surrounding the CTV site.
“People talked about grieving for a lost Christchurch. My lost Christchurch is not the same as her lost Christchurch. For example, my church fell down. I miss that church but it’s not because of the bricks and mortar of it or stones and foundation of it, I miss it because it’s where my children were baptized. I miss 14 | Inhabiting the Quake
it because I’ve had a laugh in those cafes. We inhabit the buildings and the space with our own individual memories which intersect with each others. When we talk about a lost Christchurch we can’t rebuild it because it’s very complicated” (L. D’Aeth, personal communication, February 3, 2014). While Christchurch is now being rebuilt, lives cannot be resurrected and the city cannot be restored to its former self.
2011). Christchurch offers a unique view of the impact of retrofitting URM buildings as the city had URM buildings with varying degrees of seismic upgrades prior to the earthquake. This offered the opportunity to study how effectively the reinforcements performed after a major seismic event, the February 22, 2011 earthquake. A report surveyed 368 URM buildings in
experienced heavy damage, which includes substantial damage to less than 50% of building walls and/or partial failure of exterior building walls. 23% of buildings sustained major damage, including damage to more than 50% of building walls. 8-13% of building sustained irreparable damage that would likely lead to the building’s eventual demolition. Damage to URM buildings during the February
Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings pose a particular threat during earthquakes. Due to their historical status, many URM buildings are protected and undergo varying degrees of upgrades. Unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings are characterized by brick sills, brick arches, header bricks and wall anchors and were generally built before 1940 (Swanson, 2007). These buildings lack steel reinforcements and ties, which modern buildings generally require (City of Seattle). The brittleness of the bricks can cause them to partially or fully collapse during seismic events. This poses a hazard to those inside and outside the building as the building collapse threatens those inside, while falling debris threatens those outside the building. In Christchurch, 42 people died as a result of URM building failure during the February 22, 2011 earthquake highlighting the risks associated with these buildings (Canterbury Royal Commission, 15 | Inhabiting the Quake
(Ingham and Griffith, 2011)
Christchurch post-earthquake. The report used two scales in which to evaluate damage on the buildings. Using the first scale, researchers found that no URM buildings had remained undamaged. The other scale found that only 12% of URM buildings were either undamaged, had minor cracking or escaped significant structural damage. The two scales found similar results for the other damage classifications as well: 24-27% of buildings experienced moderate damage which includes major wall cracking, damage to the building interior, or parapet failure. 28-29% of buildings
22, 2011 earthquake was extensive. The extensive amount of buildings damage allowed researchers to compare the level of damage sustained by individual URM buildings to the extent of seismic upgrades, if any, they received before the earthquake (Ingham and Griffith, 2011). Researchers analyzed hundreds of URM buildings in Christchurch to see if there was a difference in the performance of strengthened and not strengthened URM buildings during the quake. They found
that there was a relationship between earthquake strengthening and building performance during the earthquake. For example, 44% of buildings that had restrained parapets were damaged whereas 84% of buildings with unrestrained parapets experienced complete or partial collapse. Researchers also found that as a whole, buildings with structural strengthening fared better than those without (Ingham and Griffith, 2011). The report named two different types of earthquake strengthening for buildings. Type A strengthening focuses on connect-
ing building walls and diaphragms. This includes securing buildings features (excluding parapets), connecting walls to the floor and roof, and strengthening of the roof or floor. Type B strengthening focuses on improving the strength of masonry walls and adding structure to strengthen the building. This type of strengthening includes steel framing and/or bracing, concrete frames and other techniques. Buildings with no retrofitting performed significantly worse than buildings with either type A or type A and B strengthening. Buildings with type A and B strengthening performed significantly better than those
with just type A strengthening (Ingham and Griffith, 2011). Strengthening buildings has a significant impact on the buildingâ€™s capacity to withstand a seismic event. As seen in the death toll from February 22, URM buildings have the potential to cause a large loss in life. Strengthening URM buildings improves a buildingâ€™s ability to withstand major earthquake damage which can potentially improve outcomes for those in or near the building during a seismic event.
The remains of a brick building still stand in Christchurch three years after the earthquakes.
04. What this means for Seattle “In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.” - Edmund Burke
s a city prone to earthquakes, Seattle’s public health and emergency response systems need to be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to a disastrous quake at any time. While Seattle is certainly aware of its earthquake risk, what can be improved and how can we learn from Christchurch to better our response? Applicability to Seattle, Washington As I continued to conduct interviews about the earthquakes, the applicability of this event to other regions of the world became clear. Lucy explained, “All disasters are unique, you know, Hurricane Katrina is unique, 9/11 is unique, our earthquakes are unique, but they all share very similar characteristics. And that’s because humans in community do similar things” (L. D’Aeth, personal communication, February 3, 2014).This comment made me question what my home, Seattle, could learn from Canterbury’s earthquakes. Rather than isolating this project in the past, I wanted to apply it to the future. To study Christchurch’s experience and not apply it to the future seemed futile. This next section will use 17 | Inhabiting the Quake
Christchurch as a case study for improving earthquake preparedness and public health in Seattle. Seattle and Christchurch share similarities that allow us to compare the two cities, but also distinct differences that would affect earthquake response and recovery. Sara pointed out several differences and similarities between New Zealand and Seattle. Her statement that New Zealand has an earthquake culture, a collective memory of earthquakes that inform everyday life, made me realize that Washington State lacks this earthquake culture, yet the area has a very high risk of earthquakes. Similar to the routine pre-flight safety demonstration prior to each plane’s departure, in New Zealand all of the meetings I attended started with a review of earthquake safety procedures. Earthquakes are embedded into the mentality of New Zealanders, and despite a similar earthquake risk, Washington residents lack this mentality. While Canterbury suffered massive and repeated damage after the earthquakes, compulsory earthquake insurance allowed homes to be rebuilt and buildings to be repaired (S. McBride, personal
communication, February 20, 2014). In comparison, only 12-15% of Washington State residents have earthquake insurance (KOMO News). The vast difference in earthquake insurance rates between New Zealand and Washington State made me question how Washington, and more specifically Seattle, would recover from an earthquake without having many buildings insured. Seattle and Christchurch are sister cities, which aims to promote cultural, economic, educational and humanitarian exchange between the two cities (Sister Cities International). The Christchurch earthquakes provide Seattle with a unique opportunity to participate in an educational exchange with Christchurch and learn about a threat that faces both cities: earthquakes as a result of faults that run through both regions. Seattle’s Earthquake Risk As a city, Seattle is prone to earthquakes. Talk of the coming “big one” has made the public aware that a massive earthquake is expected in the future. While predictions cannot determine exactly when that earthquake will happen, historical analyses can help define
the risk and prepare the public for what may happen. By evaluating various fault zones’ recurrence intervals, the probability of an earthquakes occurrence in fifty years can be generated. For the Benioff Zone, the source of the 2001 Nisqually quake, there is an 84% chance of an earthquake in fifty years. For the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the fault capable of producing a magnitude 9 quake, there is a 10-14% chance of an earthquake in fifty years. For the Seattle Fault, there is a 5% chance of a magnitude 6.5 or greater in fifty years. For other shallow faults in the Puget Sound Basin, there is a 15% chance of a magnitude 6.5 or greater in the next 50 years (Mark Stewart, 2005).
Much like in Christchurch, fairly recent discoveries of surface fault zones, which are within twenty miles of the Earth’s surface, have caused concern in Seattle. Specifically, the Seattle Fault, running from Hood Canal through Seattle and continuing to Issaquah, has the potential to cause massive damage to Washington’s most populated region. Due to the fault’s location, scientists produced a study about the impacts of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake on the Seattle Fault. While the region has many more faults than the Seattle Fault, the fault’s location under Washington’s most populated city would have huge consequences for the entire Pacific Northwest.
50 Year Earthquake Probabilities (Stewart, 2005)
If a shallow 6.7 earthquake occurred on the Seattle fault, the study predicts it would cripple the region, resulting in mass casualties and economic burden. This section will share the study’s findings to demonstrate the importance of earthquake preparedness in the Seattle area as an attempt to mitigate risks. If a 6.7 earthquake were to hit the region at mid-day, there would be an expected 1600 deaths, over 24,000 injuries, nearly 10,000 ruined buildings, over 180,000 damaged buildings and approximately 130 fires. This would result in an expected $33 billion of property damage. The fault rupture would be an estimated fourteen miles long with a six and a half foot surface rupture. Emergency services would be overwhelmed following the earthquake and fighting fires will be difficult due to a limited water supply. It is expected that one third of households and businesses in the region will not have running water. The combination of damaged healthcare facilities and the increase in demand following the earthquake will overwhelm hospitals. As Seattle serves as the Pacific Northwest’s major medical hub, the earthquake will not only impact Puget Sound area residents, but also those seeking medical care from Alaska and patients from other states receiving specialty care. With Harborview as the area’s only Level I Trauma Center, access to care for the severely injured will be challenging (Mark Stewart, 2005). 18 | Inhabiting the Quake
The devastating results of a 6.7 magnitude quake on the Seattle Fault highlight the importance of disaster preparedness. Using the earthquakes in Christchurch as a case study, the importance of building standards and retrofitting for earthquakes is evident. As a feasible risk management strategy, Seattle’s building codes should reflect the region’s vulnerability to earthquakes. The next section will analyze Seattle’s building codes in relation to its risk for earthquakes.
After the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, 20 of the 31 buildings considered uninhabitable were URM buildings. One out of eight studied URM buildings was damaged. Of those damaged buildings, nearly 48% were considered hazardous. The Nisqually quake demonstrated the vulnerability of URM buildings during seismic events and, therefore, the importance of mitigating risks to protect those inside and outside of the buildings. Demolition is one possible risk mitigation strategy.
Building Standards As demonstrated in Christchurch, buildings, not the earthquake itself, threaten lives. Therefore, when preparing for earthquakes in Seattle, it is important to look at preventative strategies to reduce casualties. One such strategy is to improve building standards. A primary concern in Seattle is the city’s unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings. It is estimated that Seattle has between 850 and 1000 URM buildings, with many of these buildings located in downtown, SoDo, Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square. They are a primary concern because URM buildings do very poorly during seismic events and Seattle has low rates of demolition and retrofitting of these buildings, posing a greater risk to the public than in other earthquake prone areas. Historically, Seattle’s URM buildings have performed poorly during seismic events. 19 | Inhabiting the Quake
Seattle has relatively low rates of URM buildings being demolished or retrofitted, suggesting the need for improved standards in order to protect the public. Seattle has only demolished 2% of its URM buildings since City
1990. When compared with other earthquake prone cities, Seattle has a low demolition rate (David Swanson, 2007). Sara voiced her worries regarding the lack of building demolition during my interview with her: “I go to Seattle and I see all these unreinforced masonry buildings and it makes me quite nervous. And I know that they’ve done some retrofitting. I think Washington State policymakers, politicians, council workers and bureaucrats need to have a really honest discussion with Washington state residents about their building safety. Seattle’s got some serious problems… There needs to be some really tough, honest questions about whether you demolish a building or not” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014).
URM Demolitions from 1990 to
URM Seismic Upgrades from
1990 to 2003
A comparison of URM demolition and upgrade rates in several earthquake prone cities (David Swanson, 2007).
Historic landmark designations and preservation of URM buildings in areas like Pioneer Square may protect some URM buildings from demolition. While historical buildings hold cultural value, at what point does cultural significance outweigh public safety? While demolition is a feasible solution to the hazards URM buildings pose during earthquakes, seismic upgrading seems a more reasonable solution that would allow Seattle to maintain culturally and historically important buildings while also protecting the public. Seismic upgrades to URM buildings use strategies such as anchoring the brick walls to the floor and roof, adding extra structure to the building and securing potential falling objects as a means of protecting public safety (David Swanson, 2007). Sara explains, “most unreinforced masonry buildings are like a Butterfinger bar, when there’s a big shake, you just crack it in half and there’s not give, it’s just crack, done, finished. It’s a mess. [Retrofitting a building is like a] Snickers bar [with] caramel and gooey nugget and it just moves… And you may not be able to live in it again, but it hasn’t cracked in half ” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014). Despite this option as an alternative to demolishing buildings, Seattle maintains a low rate of upgrades to URM buildings. Since 1990, only 29 of 575 surveyed URM buildings, or about 5%, had received seismic upgrades. Comparatively, earthquake prone cities in
California had between 62-89% of buildings upgraded between 1990 and 2003. These high rates of seismic upgrades in California can be attributed to city ordinances that require retrofitting of URM buildings. These rates also demonstrate what Seattle could achieve if a city ordinance was passed requiring upgrade of URM buildings (David Swanson, 2007). As the previously discussed study in Christchurch demonstrated, seismic upgrades to URM buildings significantly improve the building’s performance during an earthquake, potentially saving lives and reducing injuries. Using the Christchurch study as evidence, Seattle’s adoption of a URM seismic upgrade policy would better prepare the city for future earthquakes and protect the public’s safety. University of Washington The University of Washington in Seattle is home to over 40,000 students and has approximately 65,000 people on campus every day (Commuter Services, 2014). As a major university campus with lots of people visiting every day and serving as a major economic hub, the university has a unique interest in being prepared for disaster. In 1991, the Earthquake Readiness Advisory Committee published a report regarding the seismic vulnerability of buildings and other structures on the University of Washington campus. The report looked at 166 of the 292 facilities on the Seattle campus at the time. The
report analyzed buildings using two criteria: the potential for significant damage to the structure and the life loss potential. The report then separated studied campus facilities into categories of urgency for retrofitting. The Earthquake Readiness Advisory Committee (1991) found that fourteen campus facilities had a high likelihood of severe damage and a “high life safety hazard potential” (p. 21). Those buildings included: Architecture Hall, Art Building, Denny Hall, Edmundson Pavilion, Gowen Hall, Guggenheim Hall, Hansee Hall, D’Aeth Hall, Miller Hall, Music, Parrington Hall, Savery Hall, Smith Hall and Suzzallo Library. Twelve buildings were considered at risk for “high damage potential and moderate life safety hazard” (p. 22). Those included: Administration Building, Anderson Hall, Chemistry Library Building, Clark Hall, Conibear Shellhouse, Hutchinson Hall, Lewis Hall, Marine Sciences Building, Pavilion Pool – Men’s, Roberts Hall, Raitt Hall and the Student Union Building. Five buildings constituted the group with a “high damage potential and low life safety hazard” (p. 23). Those buildings included the Canoe House, Faculty Center, Intramural Activities Building, Observatory and the Plant Operations Building. Finally, the buildings that had only a moderate damage potential but a high life safety hazard included Bagley Hall, Condon Hall, Physics Hall, Magnuson Health Sciences Center (Wings D, I, AA, E, F, G, H and the MRCD Tower) and the University Medical Center (Wings EA, EB, SW, SS, SE, NN-2, 20 | Inhabiting the Quake
EE and CC) (Earthquake Readiness Advisory Committee, 1991). Restore the Core, a 2003 state-funded program that sought to â€œrestore and modernize buildings in greatest need of renovationâ€? began to retrofit campus buildings, bring
them up to current building standards and better serve the current academic needs of the university (Justad, 2012). The program sought to update buildings that were deemed most vulnerable in the 1991 report. Starting at the center of the campus, the program intended to renovate buildings from the
center of campus and work its way outward. In 2009, the state cut the funding for the program and further renovations were stopped (Justad, 2012). Several buildings have still not been upgraded, including the Art Building, Denny Hall, Gowen Hall, Miller Hall, Music and Smith Hall in the highest
Denny Hall is one of several buildings awaiting seismic upgrades at the University of Washington.
Denny Hall is one of several buildings awaiting seismic upgrades at the University of Washington (Oesman, 2011).
priority category. Only four buildings in the second priority category had been upgraded. One building, the IMA, in the third priority category had been renovated. In the fourth priority group, with low structural damage but high life safety hazard potential, only one building, one wing of Magnuson Health Sciences and four wings of the University Medical Center had been renovated. With the funding cut, many buildings on campus still remain vulnerable to seismic events and endanger public safety. The report that states the current status of buildings is buried in the emergency management office’s webpage and is difficult to find, minimizing public awareness of the issue. Sara emphasized this lack of awareness when she suggested that, “transparency needs to happen. Real honest discussions need to start happening… Do you know the state of your buildings?... Do you know if they’re retrofitted? Next time you go to the University of Washington campus, have a look around and see how many of those old brick buildings have reinforcement, have strapping on the sides” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014). Public awareness and investment in this issue is critical if Seattle is to be adequately prepared for an earthquake in the future. Particularly, it is in the public’s interest to ensure the University Medical Center continues to function and that it has low structural damage and life safety hazards as its medical facilities will be particularly needed after an
earthquake. As Sara mentioned previously, it’s difficult to get people to care about building standards. By outlining our risks clearly and adopting an atmosphere of transparency, public investment in the issue may increase. Public investment in the issue is particularly important if we are to adopt stricter building codes in the future. The Future of Building Standards in Seattle Using Christchurch’s 2010-2011 earthquake series as a case study demonstrates the importance of building standards in earthquake preparedness. If Seattle, Christchurch’s Sister City, is to learn from the 2010-2011 earthquake series, it is essential to determine ways in which the city can be better prepared in the future. To improve earthquake preparedness, Seattle needs to look into improving seismic standards for buildings, with a particular emphasis on vulnerable structures like URM buildings and critical infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. In my interview, Sara explains the options for Seattle specifically: “The lesson from Christchurch is, do you love Seattle? Do you love how Seattle looks? Do you want Seattle to look the same after an earthquake? The only way that’s going to happen is by talking about it. We basically told Seattle public officials point blank, if you do not do anything for your heritage buildings today, forget about it, they’re gone. Prioritize – what makes Seattle Seattle? Figure out which buildings are your priorities and do something
about it. Because if you don’t they’re gone. It’s that simple. What do you want your recovery to look like? What do you want your city to look like after an earthquake? Do you want it to be all glass and steel? Do you want some heritage buildings to be around? If you want that, you’ve got to invest in it. It’s too late once it happens. You can’t put the bricks back together; once it’s gone, it’s gone” (S. McBride, personal communication, February 20, 2014). If citizens want their city to maintain the same appearance after an earthquake, seismic upgrades, particularly to URM buildings, are necessary. Fortunately, the City of Seattle is planning on implementing a comprehensive URM building policy by the end of 2014. The new URM policy will require all buildings with unreinforced masonry bearing walls to be retrofitted. This policy excludes residences with one or two units, but residences with three or more units (therefore classifying it as a multi-family structure) are included. The policy entails that qualifying URM buildings brace the building’s parapets, connect the floors and roofs to building walls, interconnect the framing to strengthen floors and roofs and strengthen any weak bearing walls. While these requirements will not be enough to prevent all URM buildings from damage during a seismic event, they will significantly improve the safety of URM buildings. The city aims to have this policy in place by 22 | Inhabiting the Quake
the end of 2014. From that point, building owners will have a set amount of time to complete the renovations. At the time of writing, the expectations is that all retrofits will be completed by 2027, in 13 years. The timeline for retrofits will be divided into critical, high and medium risk URM buildings. Critical risk buildings will include schools and important service centers such as hospitals, fire stations and police stations that will be essential to disaster response. High risk buildings include any building situated in any area with poor soil conditions with more than three stories as well as any buildings that hold 100 or more people. Medium risk buildings include all other URM buildings (City of Seattle, 2013). Assuming this policy is enacted and enforced, Seattle will be better prepared for an earthquake in the future. It will also protect important historical, cultural and economic centers.
While the proposed URM policy is an important step forward in better preparing Seattle for earthquakes, its reach is limited. While URM buildings are largely considered the most hazardous during earthquakes, the policy fails to address other critical infrastructure buildings, such as area hospitals, that are not URM buildings. The University of Washington’s University Medical Center has four wings awaiting upgrades after Restore the Core funding was cut. While structural damage at the hospital is expected to be minor following an earthquake, nonstructural damage is expected to be significant and would threaten lives. Seattle should also be addressing critical infrastructure issues like this to improve the city’s capacity to respond after an earthquake. Rather
experience, Seattle needs to act now to better prepare for future earthquakes. Much research has been done by academics and the government following the Christchurch quakes and offers a unique chance to analyze the errors and effective strategies employed before, during and after the earthquakes in Christchurch. This research enables other quake prone regions to learn from Christchurch’s experience and be proactive in their earthquake preparedness. While the substantial amount of research being done on the earthquake series cannot restore Christchurch to its former self, resurrect the 185 lives lost or heal the physical and mental pain the survivors experienced, it can aid other cities, like Seattle, in preparing for earthquakes and protecting public safety. ith her Bachelor of
The proposed Seattle URM policy timeline (City of Seattle, 2013).
23 | Inhabiting the Quake
Thank you for reading.
Susan Glenn is an undergraduate student studying Public Health and African Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. She will be graduating in June 2014 with her Bachelor of Arts degree. 24 | Inhabiting the Quake
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Jibson, R. W. (2002, January 01). A Public Health Issue Related To Collateral Seismic Hazards: The Valley Fever Outbreak Triggered By The 1994 Northridge, California Earthquake. Surveys in Geophysics, 23, 6, 511-528. Justad, Marika. (2012, Feb. 14). Preparing for Disaster. Retrieved from http://dailyuw.com/archive/2012/02/14/lifestyles/preparing-disaster. Komo News. (2006, Oct. 11). Is earthquake insurance worth the added cost? Retrieved from http://www.komonews.com/news/consumer/4376681 McSaveney, Eileen. (2013, Aug 21). Historic earthquakes â€“ The 2010 Canterbury (Darfield) earthquake. Te Ara â€“ the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/historic-earthquakes/page-12 National Geographic Education. Ring of Fire. Retrieved from http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/ring-fire/?ar_a=1 NZ Raw. (2011, Jul 9). Retrieved from http://www.nzraw.co.nz/news/eqc-interactive-map/. Oesman, Y. (2011, Feb 12). University of Washington in Autumn. Retrieved from http://yunitabeatrixoesman.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/universi ty-of-washington-in-autumn.html Shoaf, K. I., & Rotiman, S. J. (June 06, 2000). Public Health Impact of Disasters. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, The, 15, 3, 58-63. Sister Cities International. Retrieved from http://www.sister-cities.org/about-sister-cities-international Steward, Mark. (2005, June). Scenario for a Magnitude 6.7 Earhquake on the Seattle Fault. Retrieved from https://www.eeri.org/wpcontent/up loads/2011/05/seattscen_full_book.pdf. Swanson, David. (2007, Dec.). Unreinforced Masonry Building Seismic Hazards Study. Retrieved from http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cs/groups/pan/@ pan/documents/web_informational/dpds021969.pdf.
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Published on Jun 3, 2014