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Remembering the Northridge Earthquake, and Looking Forward

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The Red Cross deployed 15,000 disaster workers from Los Angeles and other states

To many, January 17 is just another Saturday, but to those who were in the region of Northridge, California at 4:31 a.m. in 1994, it will be day that is never forgotten. As we mark the 21st anniversary of the Northridge earthquake -- a magnitude-6.7 earthquake that left 57 casualties, injured 8,500 people and caused major infrastructure damage throughout the Los Angeles area, we have the opportunity to look at how we can be prepared for when an earthquake of this magnitude or greater strikes again.

The response from the Red Cross to the earthquake was monumental: The Red Cross deployed 15,000 disaster workers from Los Angeles and other states to bring comfort and aid - opening 47 shelters, serving 1.7 million meals and providing health and mental health services at a cost of $36 million.

In response to Northridge, and in anticipation of the next major earthquake, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region, in partnership with Edison International, embarked on a preparedness campaign, launching PrepareSoCal three years ago to help people prepare for and respond to future life-threatening disasters, including a major earthquake.  

Some of the major PrepareSoCal Campaign milestones include:

  • Strengthened Our Disaster Response Capacity: We have expanded sheltering capacity, bringing the total number of spaces to 698,890, and continued to develop relationships with food banks, food pantries and restaurant chains, increasing our feeding capacity to 3 million meals a day.
  • Engaged and Empowered Volunteers: We have added new Disaster Cycle Services volunteers, increasing total number of people trained to 4,307.
  • Forged Community Partnerships and Taught Preparedness: Taught prepared education to thousands of individuals in a multitude of languages (English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Farsi, Ethiopian and Tagalog), and trained 456,355 individuals in CPR/first aid.
  • Built Strong and Sustainable Disaster Logistics and Communications Systems: We have acquired a new remote base site outside Las Vegas to expand the region’s ability to communicate with radio-equipped Emergency Response Vehicles during a catastrophic event in Southern California.

The Los Angeles Region of the Red Cross is proud of the inroads we have made to provide preparedness education and training to our communities, and proud of the many partners who have worked with us to make this happen.  But in the end, preparedness begins with you.  Visit to learn what steps you can take in the case of a disaster to keep you and your families safe.

Click here to see photos from the Red Cross response to the Northridge earthquake