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1995 Kobe Earthquake. For us it is not

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Lessons from the 1995 kobe earthquake

Lessons From the 1995 Kobe Earthquake

For us it is not “if”… but “when” we will have an earthquake on Hayward Fault. Kobe, a modern Japanese port city - very similar in circumstances to Oakland - has many lessons for us.

Personal Notes - Fall 2005

Council Member Jean Quan

Kobe oakland similarities
Kobe & Oakland: Similarities

  • Both have active faults

  • Both are port cities up against hills with land fill along bay

  • Both are highly populated urban cities

  • Both have freeways built along port areas subject to liquefaction damage

January 17 1995 5 46 am
January 17, 1995, 5:46 am

  • The Great Hanshin Earthquake registered 7.3 on the Richter scale (Loma Prieta 7.1)

  • It lasted 20 seconds

The human cost
The Human Cost

  • 5500 were killed

  • 15,000 were injured

  • 250,000 were evacuated

  • 58% of those who died were over 60

  • Total population: 1.5 million, more than 3 times Oakland’s population

Structural damage
Structural Damage

  • About 67,000 or 15%

    of the buildings were destroyed (same % predicted for the Hayward Fault)

  • Another 55,000 were heavily damaged.

  • The port was closed

  • $200 Billion in damages

More damage was caused by fire
More Damage Was Caused by Fire

  • Much of the worst destruction was not caused directly by the earthquake but by the hundreds of

    fires that it caused.

  • 54 fires broke out immediately

  • 175 fires in all

  • About 7000 buildings were destroyed by fire

Fires after earthquakes
Fires After Earthquakes

Tokyo Earthquake & Fire 1800’s

Fires often cause more destruction than the initial earthquakes

San Francisco Earthquake 1906

Search rescue
Search & Rescue

  • 60% of the victims were rescued by family, neighbors and other civilians.

Emergency shelter
Emergency Shelter

  • 600 Shelters were opened

  • 32,000 temporary housing units built

Kobe City Hall served as a shelter


  • City-wide Power Failure

  • Phone: 25% failure

  • Water: almost city-wide failure

  • Industrial water: city-wide failure

  • Gas :80% failure

  • Sewage: of 7 facilities, 2 were at reduced capacity, 1 was inoperable

  • Refuse: all facilities were inoperable

Utility restoration
Utility Restoration

  • Electricity:7 days after earthquake

  • Telephone:15 days after earthquake

  • Water:91 days after earthquake

  • Industrial water:84 days after earthquake

  • Gas:85 days after earthquake

  • Sewage:135 days after earthquake


  • It took over 3 years to complete demolition & debris removal

  • 82,000 permanent homes planned, about half will have some government subsidy.

10 years later replacement housing is still being built
10 Years Later Replacement Housing Is Still Being Built

New high rise housing built as part of redevelopment stands behind, “temporary housing” being built for families still waiting for permanent housing. The random lottery for housing, scattered many historic, tight knit communities. This was especially a hardship for seniors left without family and social support and is now considered a mistake.

More fire hydrants wider streets
More Fire Hydrants, Wider Streets

Street Widening Project: Narrow streets delayed fire fighters; wider arterials & more hydrants are constructed in the rebuilt areas

Earthquake preparation today
Earthquake Preparation Today

The Disaster Reduction & Human Renovation Museum operates as a memorial, regional training center for disaster preparedness, and center for survivor programs addressing post traumatic effects.

Exhibits tell hundreds of personal stories about earthquake and what has happened since►

Community training
Community Training

Community volunteer demonstrates parts of the city at risk for tsunamis.

Volunteer Women Fire Fighters Take a Class at the Center

Personal preparedness
Personal Preparedness

Key staff prepared to stay for days, note sleeping bag & suitcase

Personal Emergency Kits

Emergency roads designated
Emergency Roads Designated

Ancient Japanese legends explained earthquakes as the movement of giant catfish under the ocean. Today these catfish signs designate Emergency Vehicle Only Roads for disasters.

Kobe emergency operating center
Kobe Emergency Operating Center

Like us, they have a regional Emergency Operating Center to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Kobe port memorial
Kobe Port Memorial

San Francisco 1906…Loma Prieta 1989… Kobe 1995…Katrina 2005…Learning from the Past to Save Lives in the Future.