Benefits to the Community
When a major earthquake occurs in a community where policy makers and the public are unaware of an earthquake risk and have not taken steps to address that risk, losses to buildings, infrastructure, the economy, and lives can be catastrophic. Buildings that are not engineered for seismic safety may collapse or become uninhabitable. Transportation networks may be severed, affecting the lives of commuters and workers. Disruption of utility systems may result; fire and chemical releases may interrupt critical services, and threaten life safety. Landslides and, in coastal communities, tsunamis, may also cause further severe losses.
A well crafted scenario provides a powerful tool for members of private industry, government officials, and the general public to begin to draft mitigation policies and programs. It will help the community weigh various risks associated with the earthquake and begin to set priorities that will systematically reduce the impact of the likely future event.
The basic idea here is to reduce the impact of the earthquake, and to be able to get back to normal as soon as possible. Obviously, one can take a "Bring it on!" attitude, but these things can really work. For example, I would predict that firehalls on soft soils would get their doors jammed in an earthquake. Wouldn't they look foolish? What would they do? How would they prevent this from happening in the first place?