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This category of emergency includes disasters brought on by earthquakes, floods or severe storms, such as hurricanes, tornados or electrical storms. While Tucson occupies an area of relatively stable geologic and climatic conditions, the possibility of disastrous situations resulting from natural causes remains a real one. Exacerbating the threat of destruction created by natural calamities are other emergencies that may accompany them, such as fire, structural collapse, explosions, medical emergencies, or power failure (see Table of Contents for these emergencies). Since the potential problems brought on by flooding and water damage are particularly acute for any library, an individual section is devoted to this emergency (see section on Water Damage/Flooding).


The last major earthquake to strike the southern Arizona area centered in northeastern Sonora, Mexico and occurred in May, 1887. While Tucson is in a zone where major quakes occur only occasionally, tremors are detected here fairly regularly. Should an earthquake of the intensity of that of 1887 strike today in Tucson, significant damage can be expected.

Most of the deaths and injuries caused by earthquakes result not from the actual movement of the ground, but from the damage it causes to man-made structures, from debris falling from buildings, flying glass, fires, explosions, etc. When an earthquake strikes, one often hears a loud rumbling noise similar to that of a passing train. This may be its only warning.

When an earthquake strikes, these procedures should be followed:

box bullet Seek shelter, preferably within the inner core of the building, away from any windows. Stand in an interior, steel-reinforced doorway, or take cover under a sturdy table, desk or bench. Protection is of the utmost importance as the earthquake will most likely cause books, shelving, ceiling tiles and structural supports to crash to the floor.

box bullet Remain in a well-protected area until the earthquake subsides.

box bullet DO NOT rush out of the building.

box bullet After the earthquake has subsided, Disaster Action Team personnel, or Library staff members in charge should assess the situation in consultation with Law College personnel and, if necessary, evacuate the Library in accordance with procedures specified in the section on Evacuation Plan. Advice of emergency authorities in making this decision may be sought by calling Campus Police at 621-8273.

box bullet It should be remembered that there is a high probability that phone service may be cut off as a result of the earthquake and that decisions may need to be made locally. In addition, even if service remains intact, DO NOT use phones except in a real emergency. The lines should be kept free for rescue operations.

box bullet If a fire results from the damage caused by the earthquake, DO call the emergency number 911 and follow the procedures in the section on Fire.

box bullet The probability of power failure after an earthquake is also high (see section on Power Failure). This may be accompanied by the danger presented by broken gas pipes. DO NOT light matches or use cigarette lighters.

box bullet If possible, give assistance to those who may be trapped or injured in the Library.

box bullet If a decision has been made to evacuate, DO NOT use elevators as they may have been damaged by the quake.

box bullet If there has been major structural damage, do not re-enter the building until authorized to do so by emergency authorities.

box bullet Be alert for after-shocks of decreasing (yet still dangerous) severity which may follow the initial earthquake within the next few hours or even days.


While the occurrence of hurricanes and tornados in Tucson is quite infrequent, severe storms accompanied by high winds, lightning and hail do occur with some frequency, especially during the summer months. Although severe damage as a result of these storms is not common, the potential for such damage does exist.

Should a severe storm which threatens to cause damage strike, proceed as follows:

box bullet When prior warning of a severe storm is received, the Disaster Action Team should take measures to protect valuable holdings and equipment from damage.

box bullet Turn off electrical power on computer equipment as specified in sections on Computer Emergency and Power Failure.

box bullet Seek shelter in an interior hallway or small, protected room without windows.

box bullet DO NOT leave building until storm subsides.

box bullet If there is injury, damage to the Library, or other emergency as a result of the storm, call the emergency number 911.

box bullet If none of its members are present when the emergency occurs, notify the Disaster Action Team.

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