84,000 homes in Salt Lake County could crumble in earthquake

(KUTV)– Many homes across the Salt Lake Valley aren’t built to withstand a major Earthquake.

On Thursday, thousands of people across the state practiced safety drills for the Great Utah ShakeOut. Experts with the Utah Division of Emergency Management say the area is due for a major earthquake.

“We’re talking about an event that happens every 1,350 years and you’re going to say ‘wow, that’s really a long time,’ well, it’s been 1,350 years since we’ve had it,” Bob Carey, earthquake program manager said.

The quake could happen at any moment and Carey said more than 84,000 homes in Salt Lake County would crumble if that happened.

“Any home built prior to 1975 in Utah we consider an unreinforced masonry building,” he said, “They’re not connected at the roof to the walls and the walls to the floor. Those connections aren’t there, so it’s kind of like a house of cards.”

Trevor and Maddie McEntire bought one of those homes in Sugarhouse two years ago.

“We love that it’s 100 years old, we love that it has history,” Maddie McEntire said.

The couple said they were charmed by the neighborhood, its schools and its proximity to downtown, however they’re weren’t aware of the house’s instability should an earthquake strike.

“If we’d had known the danger of this earthquake before we bought this house, we might not have bought in this area,” McEntire said.

The McEntires decided to try out a city sponsored program called “Fix the Brick.” They said a FEMA grant paid for 75 percent of the costs to retrofit their home.

“They went through every exterior wall with original brick and they tore about 3 feet of the roof up and they put in giant screws and screwed the roof to the walls,” she said.

By attaching the roof to the walls, the whole house will move together instead of collapsing. The entire project was done in a week.

McEntire said retrofitting their home brought the family peace of mind.

“We don’t have to sleep at night worrying about that the roof is going cave in on us or the wall are going to fall down on us.”

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