Devastation from an earthquake is life altering.
From the stress on families and finances to rebuilding, the Earthquake Brace and Bolt (EBB) program is designed to prevent houses from sliding off its foundation.
EBB offers homeowners up to $3,000 to cover costs associated with earthquake retrofitting. A residential seismic retrofit strengthens an existing house, making it more resistant to earthquake activity such as ground shaking and soil failure, according to the California Residential Mitigation Program (CRMP).
The seismic retrofitting involves bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space.
CRMP, a joint powers authority created by the California Earthquake Authority and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), was established in 2011 to help Californians strengthen their homes against damage from earthquakes.
“Many California homes are at risk to earthquake damage,” said Tina Curry, who oversees Planning and Preparedness programs for Cal OES. “EBB is an important step to help build overall disaster resilience – neighborhood by neighborhood.”
A typical retrofit may cost between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on the location and size of the house, contractor fees, and the amount of materials and work involved. The requirements for this work are outlined in a statewide building code, known as Chapter A3, that sets prescriptive standards for seismic retrofits of a specific type of older house.
Homeowners in specific ZIP codes are eligible to register for the EBB program prior to the Feb. 20 deadline.
California ZIP codes are chosen with equal consideration of these criteria:
- Earthquake Hazard: Hazard exposure based on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake hazard map for California.
- Earthquake Vulnerability: Inventory of California houses built before 1940. Older houses are more likely to require earthquake bracing and bolting.
Check EBB for a current list of available ZIP codes.
Once homeowner registration ends, an electronic system will randomly select participants in each city.
All homeowners who have successfully registered will be notified by email whether they have been selected to become a participating homeowner or whether they have been placed on the waiting list, EBB outlines on its website.
“We estimate there are approximately 1.2 million homes in high hazard areas that could benefit from this type of retrofit,” said Janiele Maffei, Chief Mitigation Officer of CEA and Executive Director of EBB. “You wouldn’t feel safe driving a car that has no seat belts, and you shouldn’t feel safe living in a house that hasn’t been bolted to its foundation.”
In 2015 participating homeowners completed nearly 600 retrofits. With an additional $3 million in funding from the state, this year EBB is planning for 1,600 retrofits and the program is being offered in 18 cities.
More about EBB can be found in an FAQ.
“EBB continues to expand to reach high hazard areas in the state,” said Curry. “In 2015 the program reached 286 zip codes, and in 2016 more than 100 ZIP codes have been added. The program over time will expand to other areas in the state and continue to improve the safety of California homes.”
Preventative measures can be taken to improve chances of earthquake survival and recovery. Cal OES recommends being prepared to be isolated for at least three days and nights. There will likely be the loss of utilities after a disaster. It is possible the power will be out, water may be scarce, gas lines may break, phones and cell towers could become inoperable and roads might be impassible, among other inconveniences.
Home and family preparations also include:
- Identify and fix potential hazards in the home.
- Create a disaster-preparedness plan.
- Create disaster kits.
- Identify and fix the building’s potential weaknesses.
- Adhere to shelter recommendations during earthquake shaking.
- After the quake, check for injuries and damage.
- When safe, continue to follow the disaster-preparedness plan.
Preparedness, recovery and additional information regarding earthquakes, as well as tsunamis and volcanoes, can be viewed on the Cal OES site.