L.A. Mayor Hopes ‘San Andreas’ Wakes up City to Threat of ‘Big One’

San Andreas
Warner Brothers

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hopes the upcoming earthquake disaster movie San Andreas will serve as a wake-up call for residents to understand and prepare for the inevitable “Big One.”

San Andreas follows a Los Angeles firefighter, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as he attempts to rescue his daughter and others after a massive earthquake strikes the notorious San Andreas fault.

Garcetti attended Tuesday night’s premiere at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre with famed U.S. Geological Survey seismologist and “earthquake lady” Lucy Jones, L.A. fire chief Ralph Terrazas, and a number of city firefighters, according to Variety.

“I hope this movie can be a gut check and a visceral reminder to people of the danger from quakes,” Garcetti said. “But then that people will also do a head check about how they can really be prepared…to react by looking at some good research and using their heads about the dangers we really face.”

In December, Garcetti announced a new initiative called Resilience by Design, which seeks to reinforce state water systems, telecommunications systems and buildings to ensure minimal damage when the “Big One” eventually hits.

And it is “when,” not “if;” according to a March report from the USGS, which reports that the chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake striking the state in the next 30 years sits at 93 percent. The chance of a magnitude 7.5 earthquake striking over the same time period sits at 48 percent.

Garcetti told Variety that while he understands that the film will likely take creative liberty in the interest of drama and destruction, that doesn’t mean the film cannot help the city think about how best to prepare for the inevitable.

“I don’t think that Night at the Museum was an accurate depiction of what happens when the lights go down at the Museum of Natural History, but it still could get people excited about history,” Garcetti told the outlet. “I hope San Andreas will be a good popcorn thriller that awakens people about the importance of getting prepared for the big quake that is long overdue to happen.”

In 2008, the USGS conducted the most comprehensive study to date of what a massive earthquake on the San Andreas fault line would look like. The ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, based on a not-so-hypothetical magnitude 7.8 quake on the San Andreas fault line, found, in part, that “if we take no additional actions for preparedness and mitigation, and the ShakeOut earthquake does occur, it will cause some 2,000 deaths, 50,000 injuries, $200 billion in damage, and severe, long-lasting disruption.”

San Andreas hits theaters May 29.


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