retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Since so many of our stories have to do with California today, it seems fitting that our Eye-Opener also focuses on the Golden State. Our theme - sometimes it isn’t the expected problem that can get you.

It is well known that Californians live in fear of earthquakes - especially “the big one” that could end up giving Nevada and Arizona residents beachfront property.

But according to the Los Angeles Times, “California's ‘big one’ may not be an earthquake at all, but a devastating megastorm that would inundate the Central Valley, trigger widespread landslides and cause flood damage to 1 in 4 homes in the state.

“The prospect of such a storm was raised this month by scientists predicting the consequences of an ‘atmospheric river’ of moisture from the tropical Pacific hitting California with up to 10 feet of rain and hurricane-force winds over several weeks ... In the scenario - powerful back-to-back storms - floods could require about 1 1/2 million people to evacuate and cause more than $300 billion in property damage. The economic loss would be four times that of a very large earthquake.”

The story goes on: “Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area would be especially susceptible to the floodwaters of overflowing rivers. A 300-mile-long expanse of the Central Valley would be underwater, with substantial losses of crops, livestock and urban structures. The rains would overwhelm much of the state's flood protection system, especially in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta area, where levees aren't designed to withstand the flow predicted in such a storm.

“Landslides would wash out key portions of roads, highways and railroads. Flooding would disrupt the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Power, water and sewer lines could sustain damage that would take months to repair.”

The good news - if a story like this can be said to contain good news - is that scientists don't seem to think that such a storm is imminent. The most recent storm event that even remotely resembled this scenario took place in 1861, and the general belief is that they happen every 300 years ago ... which means that people may not have to worry about it until the middle of the 22nd century.

So, it may not be an immediate worry, but, the Times notes, it is “a push by scientists to publicize the risk of a catastrophe that they say is unfamiliar to most Californians.”

The Eye-Opening lesson - you have to be ready for anything. And everything. Always.
KC's View: