The North Coast is prone to destructive storms and earthquake disasters. Three moving plates of the Earth's surface meet here, making northwest California the most seismically active area in the nation. Earthquakes, usually small, occur frequently and at times are followed by tsunamis. However, historic records indicate that at least 50 damaging quakes have occurred since the mid-1800’s. Of the major historic earthquakes recorded in Humboldt County, 23 of them have had intensities of VII to VIII.(Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale). Within this range of intensity, poorly to moderately well designed buildings may suffer structural damage (including partial collapse), liquefaction of some saturated sediments and potential ground rupture. (HSU Emergency Management Plan)
The area is no stranger to major flooding events. The six day storm event of December 19 through 24, 1964 were the wettest ever recorded. Every major stream on the North Coast produced new high values of extreme peak flows. Thirty-four counties in California were declared disaster areas. The highest reported rainfall in one day was 15 inches at Ettersberg in Southern Humboldt County.
Many disasters that affect our county-maintained roads and bridges are eligible for Federal Funds through the Emergency Relief (ER) Program, though local declared emergencies may be eligible for State funds through the California Office of Emergency Services (OES).
The Engineering Division assists the Road Division in assessing the road damage, and then oversees emergency and permanent repairs.