LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Councilmember Tom LaBonge joined emergency and fire officials Thursday to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake.

Angelenos can still vividly recall details from that magnitude-6.7 quake, but many still have neglected to prepare for the next one, KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports.

The quake, which occurred at 4:31 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, left 57 dead and thousands injured. It rattled much of Los Angeles for as long as 20 seconds, toppling freeways, and leaving up to $20 billion in total damage.

Simi Valley resident Paul Engleheart was among those able to escape the wreckage of his home and make his way into Los Angeles – a trip that took him four hours and left him with unforgettable images from the disaster.

“The whole place was wrecked….the overpasses on the 118 were down,” Engleheart said.

Eddie Catalan was in Palmdale when the quake hit, and recalled rushing to meet his sister, who was living on-campus and Cal State Northridge, only to find the freeways jammed and the streets littered with debris.

“Bricks, retaining walls, everything, fences were down, trees were down,” Catalan said. “It was crazy.”

Councilman LaBonge told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he hopes those types of images will spur residents to utilize city resources to better prepare their families for the next major quake.

LaBonge, along with officials from the Department of Emergency Management and the Los Angeles Fire Department, are reminding Angelenos to secure large objects in their homes, know how to turn off utilities, and keep emergency supplies on hand.

“If it comes, it is gonna be a rocker, but I just never miss a date to say, ‘Be prepared,'” LaBonge said.

Residents are urged to use an excellent guide to earthquake preparedness from the Los Angeles Fire Department website, along with resources at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Regional Chapter.


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