As San Diego takes part in a disaster drill in preparation of the "Big One," a local professor warns the damage from a quake on the San Andreas could be disastrous along the border.
Professor Eric Frost at the Visualization Center at San Diego State University said he's very concerned about the Rodriguez Dam south of Tijuana. He says it could suffer severe damage in a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, sending a wall off water into the levies toward the border.
"You can imagine that you're in line at San Ysidro crossing, an earthquake happens and you have no idea that in 10 minutes, there's going to be a wall of water that's going to come down. And everybody at the crossing -- everybody working at the crossing -- is likely to be dead," he said.
But Frost said there was no guarantee that the dam would collapse in an earthquake. He said it was built at the same time as the Hoover Dam in Nevada in the 1930s and he knows of no studies or assessments on how the dam might react to a major earthquake like the one simulated on Thursday. He says there should be further study of how the dam reacts to seismic events and that seismic monitors could save lives in a catastrophic event.
Frost also says damage in California would likely pale in comparison to the effects of a major earthquake in Mexico since building codes in the country have not been updated to withstand seismic events.
On Thursday, an estimated 5.1 million people participated in the Great Southern California ShakeOut earthquake drill, including more than 400,000 San Diegans. Across the county, emergency personnel responded to widespread casualties, collapsed structures, hazardous-materials releases and
fires as a result of the 10 a.m. drill. Residents and school children were advised to drop and cover.
"Injured victims" will be taken to a medical triage set up at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.
The drill is the biggest, most inclusive ever staged to ready for earthquake preparedness and local governments, emergency responders, schools, hospitals, churches, businesses and residents doing their part.