February 26, 2024

The San Simeon earthquake in 2003 was a magnitude 6.5 quake that caused significant damage to the downtown areas of Paso Robles and Atascadero, California. Though no lives were lost, downtown Paso Robles was especially hard-hit, with a historical building collapsing and two people dying. Atascadero’s Italian Renaissance-style city hall was severely damaged and took ten years to complete repairs. Seismologists were blindsided by the quake because they did not know the fault even existed, and the instruments in place to interpret seismic activity dated back to the 1950s. Over time, both downtown areas have been rebuilt and restored, with Atascadero experiencing revitalization in recent years. Although the aftereffects of such a devastating earthquake might look different in the present day because of increased preparedness and technology, it still leaves an enduring effect on those who experienced it.

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