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Major earthquakes provide seismologists and engineers an opportunity to examine the performance of the Earth and the man-made structures in response to the forces of the quake. So, too, do they provide social scientists an opportunity to delve into human responses evoked by the ground shaking and its physical consequences. The findings from such research can serve to guide the development and application of programs and practices designed to reduce death, injury, property losses, and social disruption in subsequent earthquakes. This chapter contains findings from studies focused mainly on public response to the Loma Prieta earthquake; that is, on the behavior and perceptions of the general population rather than on the activities of specific organizations or on the impact on procedures or policies. A major feature of several of these studies is that the information was collected from the population throughout the Bay area, not just from persons in the most badly damaged communities or who had suffered the greatest losses. This wide range serves to provide comparisons of behavior for those most directly affected by the earthquake with others who were less directly affected by it but still had to consider it very 'close to home.'
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Chapter B. The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989 - Public Response