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Cracks in the Earth

A special issue marking the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake. 

San Francisco’s Ferry Building meets an imagined future Big One.


Twenty-five years after the Loma Prieta earthquake, are we prepared for its successor? As August’s South Napa Quake demonstrated, the answer is yes (only one death) and no (tons of falling masonry). In this special issue, planned long before the Napa temblor, we provide everything you need to know about the next one—what to do when it hits, what to stash for its aftermath, and how to cope with a dozen-odd truly bad scenarios. Plus, an insane oral history of the last time the earth got angry.

Check back over the next few weeks as new stories are published online.

The Next Big One Is Coming—Ready or Not
Sooner or later, a monster quake is going to hit the Bay Area. Aided by new technology and a vast army of volunteers, we’re more prepared than we’ve ever been. But will it be enough?
By Ethan Watters 

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
Your nightmares, indexed.

By Adam L. Brinklow

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going on
A look back at California's unsteady history.
By Carly Salzberg

What's the Drill?
When it comes to earthquake protocol, there’s a lot of bogus advice out there (we’re looking at you, interwebz). So we trolled to find the most common quake-behavior myths.
By Annie Tittiger

Tales from the Brink
Four mayors, two firefighters, a blimp pilot, a stripper, an Oakland Athletic, and others recall the 1989 earthquake.
By Adam L. Brinklow, Andrea Powell, and Kate Van Brocklin.

Hoard This, Not That
An annotated guide to your must-have (and nice-to-have) quake kit, from super-chargers to booze.
By Lauren Murrow

Built to Spill
Take these steps to assess the soundness of your home, office, grocery store, school, or church, to find out whether it stands on sturdy ground, and to keep it from falling down.
By Ian Eck

The Case Against Preparedness
Or: why you should ignore everything you just read.
By Gary Kamiya


Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco 

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