Mobile Home Owners - The Heaviest Damage

If you lived in Southern California in 1994 - especially Northridge - 1/17/94 is a day you will never forget!

At 4:31 AM, Pacific Standard Time, on Monday, January 17, a moderate but very damaging earthquake with a moment magnitude (Mw) of 6.7 struck the densely populated San Fernando Valley, in northern Los Angeles. The death toll was 57, and more than 1,500 people were seriously injured.

For some, like Poppy Weisberg, sleep would be difficult anywhere. Weisberg, 79, was among 150 people who sought shelter at Sylmar High School, where the Red Cross had set up a shelter. She sat in a flowered nightgown on a borrowed cot and recounted how she had come to be there.

Weisberg had narrowly escaped injury when her mobile home in the Los Olivos mobile home park burned. If not for her neighbors, who pulled her through her mobile home's front door, she might not have survived, she said.

"You could hear the gas and I kept yelling, "Turn off my gas!" she said.

But it was too late. After her mobile home and others went up in flames, she returned to see what was left.

"It took a lot for me to go back and see what the damage was," she said choking back tears.

 

So Much For The History Lesson

Yes - you remember the earthquake, but what have you done since then to mitigate your situation?

My name is Shelly (Sheldon) Perluss and I'm a building contractor who has seen more than 5000 homes - all from underneath. My company, Cal-Quake Construction Inc. is a specialty construction company whose focus is construction methods for earthquake mitigation to existing buildings - a fancy way of saying Cal-Quake Construction retrofits.

My family and I live in a 1927, 2 bedroom bungalow in the Hollywood area. Since 1/17 I have spent more than $15,000.00 retrofitting my home.

$15,000.00! - Money I would rather have spent on a vacation or a new car or even on painting the outside of my home. Earthquake retrofitting isn't sexy, it doesn't give you two extra square feet of useable space, nor does it make your home look any better - BUT - after the next earthquake I'll be able to aid all those who decided to paint or go on vacation!

It's hard reality, but to me when the choice is a home that could fall off it's foundation or a safe home... well the choice should be easy!

Mobile Home Owners - Some Free Advice

Most damage that a mobile home suffers during an earthquake is a result of it falling off its supports. To reduce this damage, leave the wheels on to limit its fall.

Check the foundation to make sure that it has been reinforced and that the undercarriage has been securely tied to the foundation. Without this, the mobile home may be thrown off its foundation even during a small tremor.

Tie double-wide mobile homes together. The two units are generally of different weights. When an earthquake strikes, they tend to react differently and pull apart. The X-bracing system is preferred for its greater resistance to lateral earthquake forces.

Structural support bracing systems are commercially available. Designs and costs vary, but a good bracing system can be a very worthwhile investment. In September, 1985, regulations became effective requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development to certify earthquake resistant bracing systems for mobile homes. The sale or installation of systems not certified by the Department is unlawful. All certified bracing systems are required to bear a label indicating the manufacturer's name, the product name, the model number, and a statement that indicates "this system complies with the California Administrative Code, Title 25, Chapter 2, Article 7.5".

If you are interested in a seismic bracing system, contact your mobile home owner's association or Cal-Quake at
1-800-351-2969.

This column has been pieced together for you by Sheldon Perluss, owner of Cal-Quake Construction Inc. Shelly is a licensed contractor and has been in the earthquake retrofitting business for 15 years. His company, Cal-Quake Construction, has retrofitted over 4000 homes. He can be reached at 323-931-2969 or Shelly@cal-quake.com.

 
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