DOWNEY - Downey residents and business owners received an unexpected jolt last Sunday night at about 8:30 p.m.The United States Geological Survey (USGS) rated the magnitude of the earthquake as a 5.1 initially, but later lowered the severity value to a 4.7. The severity of the shaking and the dramatic jolt at the end of the event made the experience a memorable one for many. Downey Police and Fire personnel immediately canvassed the city for any earthquake related problems. The protocol for all Downey units is to clear their respective indoor locations as soon as possible and to drive a prescribed route through the community. The responding crews pay particular attention to areas and structures housing large numbers of people and those buildings protecting residents with special needs. Street and infrastructure conditions are also of great concern. Fortunately, Downey Police and Fire personnel were unable to find any related problems after the earthquake. However, both Communication Centers reported an increase of calls for assistance immediately after the earthquake. The Downey Unified School District staff reported they had not found any damage or problems as a result of the earthquake. A number of property and car alarms are typically activated by the shaking and moving. These (generally false) alarm activations are cleared one by one by police officers and firefighters. Some health emergencies develop as a result of the earthquake. Many times items (or people) fall, resulting in injuries. Some health conditions are exacerbated by the nervousness and uncertainty caused by the sudden shaking and rolling. On Wednesday afternoon, an aftershock with a 4.1 magnitude was felt in Downey. These types of events are predictable after larger earthquakes like the one experienced on Sunday. The unnerving thought that occurs immediately after each earthquake is whether the most recent shaking is a forewarning of things to come or basic adjustments in the earths surface. Sunday's shaking reportedly started eight miles below the surface under the area of Los Angeles County known as Lennox (very close to the Hawthorne/Gardena area). Experts from the USGS predict a magnitude 8.0 earthquake will hit the Southern California area within the next 30 years. An earthquake of such a magnitude is expected to cause major problems for residents and emergency responders alike.
********** Published: May 22, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 5