Thursday, February 7 2013, 06:39 PM CST
CHAMPAIGN-- When talking about local homes, structural engineer John Frauenhoffer says, "Generally if they've been constructed in accordance with the building code, the chance of having a major serious structural damage is rather slim." That's good news for homeowners, but for those who study the effects of groundshaking and earthquakes, the consequences can be a little more serious.
University of Illinois professor and Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering Amr Elnashai says, "There could be a social-economic impact in terms of disruptions to the supply lines and to industries that are depending on the road networks and the bridges." The University is one of the leading research centers in the country that study the effects of earthquakes. They partnered with FEMA in 2008-2009 to study the consequences a major earthquake would have on housing, food, and medical needs.
Elnashai says, "The missing element is, putting investment to improve the infrastructure so that if an earthquake happens the impact is reduced. As we all see it right now, if there is a repeat of the 1811-1812 events, our region will not be able to take it."
Some of the devastating earthquakes that occurred in the 1811-1812 season measured above a 7 on the Richter scale, and Elnashai says there is the possibility that something with that strength could occur again. The last major earthquake in the area occurred in 2008 and was nearly 100 times weaker than the 1811-1812 quakes.
But for local homeowners that can still mean real damage. Frauenhoffer says, "We generally see damage to house foundations, particularly if they are old brick foundations, or concrete block foundations." The best way to deal with potential earthquakes, short of rebuilding the home? Frauenhoffer says, "For people that have those kinds of buildings, it's very important that they buy the earthquake insurance."
Adam Rife reporting