Shake and Break

As Californians, we live in the most disaster-prone state in the nation. We've had more than our fair share of fires, floods, Republican governors, landslides and, of course, earthquakes. How prepared is California for the next big or even medium-sized one? These questions are all the more pertinent now in light of the recent earthquake in Hawaii, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the shocking failures of the federal government in dealing with both the pre- and post-Katrina Gulf Coast. While 9/11 was a painful wake-up call to the entire nation about the necessity for disaster preparation, Katrina taught us that we still cannot depend on the federal government to protect our citizens from disaster and efficiently aid them in recovery—a chilling thought for a state that has suffered the worst earthquakes in the nation's history and will very likely suffer more.

While Hawaii's recent earthquake clocked in at a magnitude of 6.7—the same magnitude of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake—it didn't do nearly as much damage. LA's 1994 disaster was the most damaging U.S. tremor since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and also the most costly one in U.S. history, causing more than $25 billion dollars in damage.

So given our state's disaster-prone nature, are we any more prepared than our relatively boring neighbors? What have we learned from these horrifying experiences? The “State of Emergency: Disaster Response in California” exhibition at the Old Courthouse Museum seeks to answer these questions by delving deep into California's long history of snafus and features numerous photos that pay special attention to Orange County's own dealings with disaster. No word yet on whether or not the cancellation of Arrested Development will be included.

“State of Emergency: Disaster Response in California” at Old Courthouse Museum, 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 973-6605. Open Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thru Dec. 11.

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