Reducing Earthquake Losses
OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT WASHINGTON DC
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Earthquakes have caused massive death and destruction, and potentially damaging earthquakes are certain to occur in the future. Although earthquakes are uncontrollable, the losses they cause can be reduced by building structures that resist earthquake damage, matching land use to risk, developing emergency response plans, and other means. Since 1977, the federal government has had a research oriented program to reduce earthquake losses the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program NEHRP. This program has made significant contributions toward improving our understanding of earthquakes and strategies to reduce their impact. Implementing action based on this understanding, however, has been quite difficult. This chapter provides an introduction to earthquakes a sum mary of the earthquake hazard across the United States, a review of the types of losses earthquakes cause, a discussion of why earthquakes are a congressional concern, and an introduction to mitigation actions taken prior to earthquakes that can reduce losses when they occur. The federal policy response to date, NEHRP is then described and reviewed. Finally, specific policy options for improving federal efforts to reduce future earthquake losses are presented.