Earthquake Mitigation Saves Lives

♪♪ (wave sounds) Hoyt FieldsI was in my office, and all of a sudden, the building started to rumble the building started to rumble and I was saying something’s going on.

My name is Hoyt Fields.

I’m the museum director here at Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, better known as Hearst Castle.

Construction on the castle began in 1919, this is one of six homes that was owned by newspaper publisher William Randolf Hearst.

Julia Morgan was the architect; Julia Morgan went through the earthquake in 1906 in San Francisco and so what we have here are reinforced concrete boxes with items affixed to the building's exterior and also on the interior.

We did lose 12 artifacts during the earthquake in 2003.

But there was no structural damage what so ever.

So we have a 1919 construction and not one bit of earthquake damage.

Julia Morgan was ahead of her time.

Since there were not problems with the building structure itself.

We needed to look closer at mitigating issues like the 12 items that…the artifacts that were damaged during the earthquake.

When I came up here to the library, this Roman vase, its first century BC, was shattered here on the floor.

Of course now it’s been affixed to a larger diameter, larger base and its not going to go anywhere.

But it’s all reversible without any damage to the pot, or even this 15th century Spanish table.

You can build to withstand the shaking that comes and the devastation sometimes that comes from earthquakes.

The castle is big generator of revenue for the State of California.

♪♪ Of course, it’s a historical monument and it's filled with artifacts from 18th dynasty Egypt all the way to the 1940s.

♪♪ It is an icon.

It is one of America's castles.

♪♪ Jim SaundersWhen an earthquake hits, you hear the building creaking, groaning, moaning and snapping because there are things that move in the building.

And you have this sense that you’re going to go with this one and your time is over.

My name is Jim Saunders.

I’m from Paso des Robles.

I was born here and this building used to be one of my little neighborhood hang outs when I was a very small child and downstairs, in the middle portion of the building was a candy store, my favorite hang out.

During the 80s, the downtown wasn’t very vibrant.

So I had an idea if that I bought this building and renovated it, perhaps I could create a desire for other businesses to come downtown.

So it really did work that way.

There was an ordinance that was created in the county years ago that gave every building property owner until 2017 to retrofit their building.

I though we better do it on the front end rather on the back end.

♪♪ The seismic retrofit, structural retrofit of the building was to bring it up to current code.

So that it is structurally sound in the event of an earthquake.

We're in the highest earthquake zone in the state.

We essentially stiffened the building, so it would ride out an earthquake.

So in an effort to do that, we put garter belts on it, if you will.

From the inside out, we put what are called ledger beams in,new trusses, new I-beams across the floors to hold walls up.

Second floor, third floor, reinforced the hundred year old trusses that were there.

Sister trussed those trusses.

Seismically tied those trussed to the outside walls, to the parapet walls.

Epoxyed new connections in to hold those trusses in place.

New roof structure held the new air-conditioning systems down.

Re-attached the facade, new windows, new elevator shaft…to name a few things.

We bought the property at a very good value, so we could afford to put a lot of money into it.

About six months after, coincidentally after we finished our seismic retrofit for earthquake preparedness, there was a 6.

5 magnitude earthquake.

And it tested the integrity of our building, more so than I'd ever dreamed it would be tested.

I knew the building was going to hold up, I felt good about it.

About twenty feet away from our building across the alley, our neighboring property owner's building came to the ground and two people lost their lives.

It was devastating, a young girl and a middle-aged woman, totally innocent, just feared for their lives, ran outside and that's when the façade of the building and the roof had fallen in and caved in over top of them.

It's very difficult to relate, too.

It was a very emotional day.

There is no question in my mind, subsequent the earthquake, that our seismic retrofit absolutely saved lives and I was very glad that I did it.

It definitely paid off.

Source: Youtube