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Chile earthquake: How California would fare

If California experienced an earthquake like the one that rocked Chile, strict building codes and a culture of preparedness are on its side, but citizens have to take responsibility, observers say.

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A Chilean flag stands amid debris in Iloca, Chile, Monday, after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit Chile early Saturday, causing widespread damage.

Fernando Vergara/AP

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California is well prepared to deal with an earthquake on par with the Chile earthquake on Saturday, but residents can do more to help themselves, disaster preparedness experts say.

Because it lies on the San Andreas fault, the tectonic boundary between the Pacific and the North American plates, California’s vulnerability to earthquakes has been well-documented since the late 1800s. Because building codes call for steel reinforcements – some tall buildings are even built on rolling foundations – the physical devastation to man-made structures that would happen here in a massive earthquake would be far less than Haiti or Chile.

Government response in California is also among the most sophisticated in the US, according to David Paulison, a head administrator for FEMA from 2005 to 2009.

IN PICTURES: Images from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile

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