At 4:30 am, on January
17, 1994, the strong shaking of the Northridge earthquake measuring
6.7 on the Richter scale rudely awakened residents of the greater
Los Angeles area. This was the first earthquake to strike directly
under an urban area of the United States, since the 1933 Long
The earthquake occurred
on a blind thrust fault 18 km. below the surface, and produced
the strongest ground motions ever instrumentally recorded in an
urban setting in North America. Damage was widespread, sections
of major freeways collapsed, parking structures and office buildings
collapsed, and numerous apartment buildings suffered irreparable
damage. Damage to wood-frame apartment houses was very widespread
in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica areas, especially
to structures with "soft" first floor or lower-level parking garages.
The high accelerations, both vertical and horizontal, lifted structures
off of their foundations and shifted walls laterally.
The cost of the devastation
ran into billions of dollars. Bochasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha
quickly got together its volunteers and was among the first on
- The volunteers of the organisation
immediately formed into 10 teams and set out with food, fresh
drinking water and medical help to the worst effected area
in Northridge, Chatswarth, Granada Hills and Canoga Park.
- Volunteers went door to door
helping families in whatever way they could.
- A second team of volunteers
used modern telecommunication systems to assess the damage
and find those who needed help immediately.
- A special 24-hour emergency
telephone system was set up where victims of the quake could
ask for help and assistance.
- As soon as the first immediate
help was given, the task of reconstruction and renovating
homes was put into action. A team of structural engineers
was sent to those hardest hit, providing free assessments
and guidance for reconstruction.