Little Locales Using Big Data to Prevent Bridge Failures

Situated on the northwest coast of Oregon, the resort town of Seaside — population 6,685 — seems an unlikely place for advanced seismic and tsunami simulations. But just offshore Seaside’s charming 1920s boardwalk and its broad, sandy beaches famed for razor clamming, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is slowly sliding underneath the behemoth North American plate.
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Better Engineering for Stronger, Longer-Lasting Bridges and Wastewater Infrastructure

Eighty-one years ago this May, traffic opened on a newly constructed bridge span between Marin County, California, and the city of San Francisco. At 4,200 feet long and with towers 746 feet high, the steel suspension bridge was the longest and tallest bridge of its time. Built at a cost of $35 million, held together with 1.2 million rivets, and painted international orange from end to end, the Golden Gate Bridge was an instant symbol not just of California idealism, but of American engineering and construction might.

While the Golden Gate is no longer the longest or tallest bridge in the world, its iconic status has endured. Named one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Golden Gate enjoys regular special attention from 13 ironworkers and 28 painters who replace corroding steel and rivets with high-strength steel bolts and constantly touch up the span with paint to prevent corrosion.
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Staying Put, Riding Out the Storm and Surviving the Odds by Sheltering in Place

Disaster strikes. It’s inevitable, given enough time. Regardless of where you live, there are natural disasters waiting to happen, be they earthquakes, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.  Meteorologists and emergency service providers can often provide advance notice of weather-related disasters like hurricanes, but seismic events, tornadoes and flash floods can often occur with little or no warning.

In the wake of recent catastrophic events such as Superstorm Sandy (233 deaths, $75 billion in damages), the 2011 Joplin tornado (158 deaths, $2.8 billion in damages), and Hurricane Katrina (1,245 deaths, $108 billion in damages), emergency management experts are increasingly evaluating the benefits of sheltering in place as opposed to evacuation. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), sheltering in place is generally advisable when it may be dangerous to leave your home or place of employment.
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Earthquake Brace and Bolt Helps California Homeowners Retrofit

When you live in earthquake country, you know it’s not “if” there will be a big quake, it’s “when.” You may have an earthquake emergency kit ready, but there are also steps you can take now to strengthen your home to make it more resistant to earthquake damage. And if you live in California, there’s a program called the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) that provides up to $3,000 for seismic retrofit grants to homeowners residing in more than 150 California zip codes. If you’ve checked it before and your zip code wasn’t listed, be sure to check it again because the list has been expanded. Continue reading “Earthquake Brace and Bolt Helps California Homeowners Retrofit”

Protecting Your Home from Earthquakes

On a Sunday morning in late August 2014, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake surprised Napa, California residents and caused structural damage to many homes and businesses in the area. One of the most powerful earthquakes in Napa’s history, local news outlet KQED reported $300 million in damage to homes and commercial properties.

Napa is right in our backyard, about 60 miles north of Pleasanton. Many Simpson Strong-Tie employees felt the quake, but fortunately no one was injured. If you’ve ever been in a large earthquake, you would probably agree that it’s a frightening and unsettling experience. And unlike other natural disasters, there’s no warning. Here is one woman’s story about the Napa earthquake:
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5 Tips for Homeowners Living in Earthquake Zones

You might not think you live in earthquake country, but at least 42 states are considered at moderate to very high risk earthquake zones. As you evaluate your home’s ability to withstand an earthquake and prepare for a seismic retrofit, knowing these simple steps will help ensure that your home is structurally sound and earthquake resistant.

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Retrofitting Your Home for High Wind — 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Nearly all parts of the country are subject to high winds. It’s important that your house is designed to withstand a high wind storm. Knowing whether your house is storm ready requires a few simple steps.

One of the first things to consider is where you live. Coastal areas, for example, are more susceptible to powerful winds such as hurricanes. Local building codes for these areas typically require homes to resist much higher wind speeds than inland homes. You’ll want to check with your local building department to learn about the codes that govern your area.

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