The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the probability of the Elko area suffering a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in the next 50 years was 6 to 8 percent. For Carson City, they estimated the likelihood at 70 percent.
"Carson City-Reno is probably the number one potential earthquake hazard in Nevada because of the location of large active faults," said David Schwartz, USGS earthquake geologist.
In terms of seismic activity, Nevada is third in the nation, behind only California and Alaska, for earthquakes.
About 30 faults could cause damage in the Carson City-Reno urban corridor, he said, but the most troublesome are the Genoa Lake fault, Mount Rose fault, Carson City Fault, Indian Hills fault, Kings Canyon fault, Eagle Valley fault and the East Carson Valley faults.
"Those are primarily the active faults that could produce earthquakes in the Carson area," Schwartz said.
Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi, also the city's emergency management director, said the city has an emergency plan in place, but people should remember that our resources are already taxed.
"An earthquake is absolutely overwhelming to a community. If we have an earthquake in this region, and it's a significant earthquake, it's not only going to affect us, it's going to affect all of the people we rely on for mutual assistance. We're not going to get help from Reno or Douglas County like we do on a daily basis," he said. "We do have a good plan in place that will make the best use of all the resources we have to bring to bear and we work very hard at working together as a team citywide."
Melina Alexander, customer service representative for Farmer's Insurance, said most home insurance policies she handles do not have earthquake coverage, but just like after the Fernley floods when flood insurance increased, she expects earthquake insurance will increase.
"It can be added on to your homeowner's policy and it's not terribly expensive," she said.
Giomi said damage estimates should a magnitude 6.0 earthquake strike are nearly $700 million.
A FEMA model that generates loss-estimates for earthquake scenarios predicts a 6.0 earthquake here could claim 20 to100 lives, with 140 to 600 people needing shelter and 2,800 buildings suffering major damage.
But, Giomi notes, there are ways for people to protect themselves. The Carson City Fire Department's Preparedness Guide lists a number of things people can do to protect life and property during a disaster. The guide can be picked up at the Carson City Fire Department on Stewart Street.
"I think that a disaster like this will be taxing on us, and it will be challenging for the community, but based on our past performance to disasters, everyone works together very well, and I think we have the strength of our community to draw on," he said. "Our community has a very strong history of pulling together. Community response to disaster is really what's critical. Neighbor helping neighbor. And everyone in this community has done a really good of doing that in the past."
- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.