President Barack Obama has ordered all new or renovated federal buildings to be equipped with the latest protections against earthquakes. Obama signed an executive order today creating a federal earthquake risk management standard. The White House says the standard will improve federal buildings' resilience to earthquakes, making them safer and lowering the costs for recovering from a quake.
Obama's order said that agencies constructing or updating federal buildings must ensure they're built with earthquake -resistant designs that meet the latest building codes. The White House said that following those codes is one of the best ways to save the lives of people living in a building.
The White House is also seeking to make more progress in deploying an early earthquake warning system along the west coast. Federal agencies are exploring ways to speed up the permitting process for new seismic monitoring stations. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said during a White House conference on earthquake resilience that the goal is to give people a short head start before an earthquake hits. Such detection systems would allow trains to stop or slow down and elevator doors to open a few seconds before the full force of the earthquake hits. Once the system is fully operational, early warnings would be issued by the United States geological survey. The alerts would also go out to individual smartphones and allow people to move away from hazardous locations and "drop, cover and hold on" before strong shaking occurs.
Pacifica's Nina Pareja has more.