17 January 2014

At 4:30 am, on January 17, 1994, residents of the greater Los Angeles area were awakened by the strong shaking of the Northridge earthquake. This was the first earthquake to strike directly under an urban area of the United States since the 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

The earthquake occurred on a blind thrust fault, and produced the strongest ground motions ever instrumentally recorded in an urban setting in North America. Damage was wide-spread, sections of major freeways collapsed, parking structures and office buildings collapsed, and numerous apartment buildings suffered irreparable damage. Damage to wood-frame apartment houses was widespread in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica areas, especially to structures with "soft" first floor or lower-level parking garages. The high accelerations lifted structures off of their foundations and/or shifted walls laterally.

The Salvation Army was one of the first social service organizations on the scene, setting up one of its mobile canteens an emergency food and assistance center at the Northridge Meadows Apartment Complex which had collapsed and was the scene of death and destruction.

Over the course of the recovery effort, The Salvation Army, working in tandem with National, State and local authorities, provided a wide range of relief and recovery to the many thousands impacted by this seismic event:

  • Salvation Army shelters in Burbank, Glendale, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles Central Corps and Canoga Park High School were established and housed more than 13,000 earthquake survivors whose homes were deemed unsafe in the aftermath of the quake
  • With broken water mains and failed pipes criss-crossing the San Fernando Valley, The Salvation Army delivered more than 90,000 gallons of safe drinking water to survivors and first responders
  • The Salvation Army deployed 20 mobile canteens that served hot and cold meals to tens of thousands of survivors in the weeks following the quake
  •  Salvation Army Warehouses distributed 91 tons of food and relief supplies
  •  At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The Salvation Army managed five "tent-cities" established in local parks and provided services to 13 other such shelter locations
  • 175 Salvation Army Officers, 120 Salvation Army Cadets and hundreds of Salvation Army volunteers worked in conjunction with the National Guard and Police agencies in providing assistance to the Northridge Earthquake survivors
  • As part of the long-term strategy for relief, The Salvation Army leased 100 condominiums from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide housing to quake survivors for up to a year.