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Direct Economic Losses in the Northridge Earthquake: A Three-Year Post-Event Perspective

Eguchi, Ronald T. and Goltz, James D. and Taylor, Craig E. and Chang, Stephanie E. and Flores, Paul J. and Johnson, Laurie A. and Seligson, Hope A. and Blais, Neil C. (1998) Direct Economic Losses in the Northridge Earthquake: A Three-Year Post-Event Perspective. Earthquake Spectra, 14 (2). pp. 245-264. ISSN 8755-2930. doi:10.1193/1.1585998.

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The Northridge earthquake will long be remembered for the unprecedented losses incurred as a result of a moderate-size event in a suburban area of Los Angeles. Current documented costs indicate that this event is the costliest disaster in U.S. history. Although it is difficult to estimate the full cost of this event, it is quite possible that total losses, excluding indirect effects, could reach as much as $40 billion. This would make the Northridge earthquake less severe than the Kobe event, which occurred exactly one year after the Northridge earthquake, but adds a bit of realism that a Kobe-type disaster is possible in the U.S. This paper attempts to put into perspective the direct capital losses associated with the Northridge earthquake. In doing so, we introduce the concept of hidden and/or undocumented costs that could double current estimates. In addition, we present the notion that a final estimate of loss may be impossible to achieve, although costs do begin to level off two years after the earthquake. Finally, we attempt to reconcile apparent differences between loss totals for two databases tracking similar information.

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Additional Information:©1998 Earthquake Spectra The authors of this paper would like to thank the many individuals who provided data and information for this effort. In particular, we would like to thank the Geographic Information Systems Group of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES), the City of Los Angeles' Building and Safety Information Systems, Los Angeles County Urban Research, Richard Roth of the Department of Insurance, and senior management staff at OES (Richard Andrews, Cheryl Tateishi, Paula Schulz, Edward Bortugno, and Andrew Petrow). Finally, the authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers who provided thoughtful and insightful comments that helped to make this a more meaningful paper.
Subject Keywords:Northridge, California earthquake, Jan. 17, 1994; loss analysis, Economic aspects, Inspection, Los Angeles County, Southern California; structural damage assessment
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:EGUes98
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7079
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:08 Jan 2007
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 20:39

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