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 Beach earthquake.
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 scene.
The Relief Operation
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.