By Julie Watts

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A lot of people felt last weekend’s earthquake in the Sacramento area, which has many wondering if they need to worry about local earthquake damage from the “big one” somewhere else?

The short answer is yes, even though we don’t have any active local faults, earthquake damage is possible here.


“Even Sacramento is going to experience severe shaking (at some point) from a number of seismic sources in the area,” said Tim McCrink of the California Geological Survey.

He noted earthquake energy can travel many miles and while most of us focus on the Bay Area faults, the biggest jolt here may actually come from earthquakes in Tahoe or Reno.

“We would feel that pretty hard shaking here. Mostly because the energy is not dissipated in the Sierra granite like it would be from the more broken up rocks coming from the Bay Area,” McCrink said.

He added that a quake off the Northern California coast could also hit us hard due to the subduction type of fault and length of shaking as a result.


According to McCrink, the local areas that are most at risk of damage are homes and buildings along the Sacramento and American riverfronts due to the possibility of liquefaction.

“When you shake wet sandy soil very hard from a quake it turns to quicksand,” McCrink said.

You may remember the images of collapsed homes in San Francisco’s Marina district. That damage there was due, in part, to liquefaction. It was also due to the type of structures in the Marina District, and there are certain types of structures here that are at greater risk here too.

“You got a lot of brick, you got a lot of risk,” said Glenn Pomeroy of the California Earthquake authority.

He explained the type of building plays a role in the risk of damage and should be top of mind when considering earthquake insurance. He said brick buildings, homes on raised foundations and those built before 1980, when building codes weren’t as strong, are all at greater risk for damage.

Damage can range from cracked drywall to foundation and structural issues to damaged property and electronics inside your home.


In light of the aging infrastructure in the area, there are also flood concerns associated with local shaking.

“But that would be flood insurance,” Pomeroy said.

He clarified, if your home is damaged by a flood as a result of a leeve break caused by an earthquake, the damage would not be covered under an earthquake policy. You would need a separate flood insurance policy for that.


Even though there are areas in Sacramento that are at greater risk of earthquake damage, unlike flood insurance, we found no matter where you live here, your rate for earthquake insurance would be about the same.

We looked up rates for several zip codes, including some higher and lower risk areas, and found policy prices didn’t vary much, despite certain neighborhoods and homes that may be at higher risk than the rest of the area.

Pomeroy said that is because, overall, the region is relatively low risk compared to the rest of the state.

However, the cost of earthquake insurance did vary from around $100-$300 a year depending on the amount of coverage, the type of home and the deductible you choose.

You can check the rates for your home with the CEA’s online calculator.

Julie Watts


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