The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
The great San Francisco earthquake started at 5:12 in the morning on April 18, 1906. The epicenter of the San Francisco earthquake was only 2 miles from the city. It's devastation spanned 296 miles (477 km). Citizens from Oregon to Los Angeles area could feel the tremors of the San Francisco Earthquake. The San Francisco Earthquake foreshock preceded the mainshock by about 20 to 25 seconds. The strongest shaking lasted about 60 seconds. The shaking intensity as described on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale reached 8 in San Francisco area and up to 9 in the area up to coast like Santa Rosa.
The San Francisco Earthquake is considered one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the USA. The devastation has been compared to that of Hurricane Katrina.
The San Francisco Earthquake Affected Many Lives
There were only 478 casualties reported by the government in the San Francisco Earthquake deaths reports. However, experts agree that these numbers are grossly inaccurate. Many of the dead were not reported from Chinatown San Francisco because of the racism against Chinese from that time. False numbers may have been also given in order to encourage people to return to the city. Today the experts are saying that the number of deaths in San Francisco Earthquake was most likely between 3,000 and 6,000.
After the quake more than half of the city's 400,000 people were homeless. People were staying in tents in the area of Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, the Panhandle, and the beaches among Ingleside and North Beach.
At the time of the earthquake San Francisco was the ninth largest city in the States and the largest on the West Coast. Over 80% of the city was destroyed by the earthquake and fire. Fear of another earthquake prompted a large percentage of the population to relocate in the Los Angeles area.
The San Francisco Earthquake Fires
The fires that were out of the control after the San Francisco Earth quake were much more disastrous than the earthquake itself. It was estimated that the fires were responsible for the 90% of the damage from the quake. Other fires were the results of the camping fires from refugees. The fires lasted for 4 whole days. As a result of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the water mains were broken and the fire department had less and less water supplies against the fast spreading fire. The fire department did not have enough resources and the Army was ordered to help in the aftermath. The soldiers also helped in patrolling the streets, guarding the public buildings such as the county jail, post office,and the banks. The earthquake's damage was estimated to be $400 million USD.