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23 Years Later, Costs For Another Devastating Northridge-Style Quake Skyrocket

NORTHRIDGE ( — Twenty-three years after the Northridge quake, authorities say residential damage in the area could be as high as $79 million if a similar quake were to occur.

The magnitude-6.7 shaker that caused widespread damage to freeways, office buildings and homes struck on Jan. 17, 1994, and caused more than $40 billion in damage - making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history at that time.

The quake - which killed 57 people and injured thousands more - affected an area spanning Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties, or 2,192 square miles.

Officials said more than 20,000 people were left homeless, while an estimated 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, some as far as 85 miles away from the epicenter.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is a 93 percent chance of a magnitude-7 earthquake occurring in California in the next 30 years, which would be a massive quake that would be three times as strong as the Northridge quake.

But as the cost to rebuild or repair homes has increased by about 170 percent over the past two decades, California Earthquake Authority (CEA) CEO Glenn Pomeroy says more Californians are aware of the earthquake risk.

"The anniversary of the Northridge earthquake should remind us all that devastating earthquakes have happened in our beautiful state, and they will happen again," Pomeroy said. "We don't need to live in fear of the next big earthquake, or the expensive damage it will cause, but we do need to be prepared."

Homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by earthquake shaking. Without a separate earthquake insurance policy, Pomeroy said, Californians bear the cost to repair or replace alone.

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