The chance of the Big One rocking Southern California increases every day, but few of us are ready for an earthquake that could take out our electricity, our roads, our water supply. We know we should have an emergency kit with a radio and flashlights and batteries and food, more than half of a tank of gas in our vehicle. We know water is the most important -- three gallons of water per person per day - because people can go three weeks without food, but barely a week without water. We know all of that, but we don't act on that knowledge.
Luckily for Orange County (and you), the Big One has yet to happen, but every incident - from minor to major, wildfire to blackout - helps prepare local emergency planners. A 2011 blackout came close to the level of widespread misery the Big One would bring. Large swaths of land in California, Arizona and Mexico fell into darkness, caused by a cascade of errors in the electrical grid. This event, later referred to as the Great Blackout of 2011, would have far-reaching effects for the five electrical utilities directly involved and for various utilities indirectly involved. Ill-prepared motorists were stranded, as fuel stations didn't have power for the pumps and payment systems. The blackout lasted an astounding 12 hours and challenged emergency preparedness and management among water agencies.