NORTHRIDGE (CBSLA) — Thursday marked the 25th anniversary of the deadly Northridge earthquake.

The 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck on Jan. 17, 1994 at 4:30 in the morning when many people in the San Fernando Valley were sleeping.

How much better off are we today compared to 25 years ago?

“In some ways we are much better off and in some ways we have fallen behind,” said former USGS seismologist Lucy Jones.

Jones is considered by many to be the state’s leading earthquake expert. She says people were better prepared when the Northridge earthquake hit 25 years ago because there had been a damaging earthquake in Los Angeles every year for the previous six years. For example, back then 40 percent of homeowners had earthquake insurance. Most people had plans. Many people had stockpiled water at home.

“All of those things, that level has fallen down because we’ve been in such a quiet period,” said Jones.

But she says on the government level a lot has been done. Many building have been retrofitted and a lot of cities outside of Los Angeles have begun retrofitting buildings as well.

“The next earthquake is absolutely inevitable but the disaster is not,” said Jones.

So what can you do to prevent a personal disaster?

“We need to help each other,” said Jones.

Jones says there may not be emergency services available to you in the days following a big quake but there are family and friends and community organizations you can turn to.

She says strengthen those ties. Talk about how we can help each other after the next big earthquake hits.

“Stop worrying about dying in the earthquake and start worrying about being bankrupted by the earthquake,” said Jones.

She says your chances of dying in an earthquake are about the same as being hit by lightning. But financial loss can be devastating.

“Bring in a specialist to tell me what I can do to make it safer in an earthquake,” said Jones.

And perhaps first and foremost, know what you’re going to do the second an earthquake hits. You know the drill — drop, cover and hold on.

Also download the ShakeAlert app onto your smartphone. It will give you the heads up before the next quake.

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