Earthquake readiness | How will Bakersfield stack up to 'the big one'

FILE -- The Fox Theater is seen in downtown Bakersfield, Calif., Sept. 4, 2017. (KBAK/KBFX photo/Lexi Wilson)

"The big one." We've been told that massive earthquake is inevitable, and thus many are prepared for when it comes.

Building codes have been adjusted over the years to force builders to construct buildings, roads and highways with seismic activity in mind.

Bakersfield is no exception, as the city is scattered with buildings built to various codes.

How these buildings stack up to a major earthquake depends on many things, but there are occurrences we can more or less count on in the event of "the big one."

Let's start with the biggest and oldest buildings in Bakersfield. We're going to use the Fox Theater and the Padre Hotel as examples. Both of these buildings are made of brick and are quite tall.

"Masonry buildings of that type tend to have problems with collapse," said William Krugh, a geology professor at California State University, Bakersfield. "Walls collapsing and falling."

Krugh attributed this to the brittleness of brick and the material's nature to crumble. However, the professor still believes these buildings have a fighting chance.

"They made it through some pretty large earthquakes, so that's in their favor," Krugh said.

He admitted most taller and new buildings should be mostly OK. The bigger concern, he said, are single-family homes.

"Single-family homes, the biggest issue is getting shaken off the foundation," he said.

That means a lot of people will likely find themselves homeless and in need of help and resources. However help and resources from outside Bakersfield may be tough to get.

Odds are a large scale earthquake will isolate Bakersfield. The highways going south out of town through the Grapevine and going east through the Kern River Canyon will both likely be covered in rocks and debris after the earthquake causes rock slides.

As for the 99 going north, Krugh said it could be even worse.

"We are going to feel pretty high intensity shaking, and we do have soft sediment throughout the valley," said Krugh. "Essentially, (soft sediment) can liquify and can cause a quicksand-type situation where parts sink and move around."

The biggest concern for Krugh is gas and power lines breaking throughout Bakersfield, causing too many fires to manage.

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