For an hour or longer, hundreds of thousand of residents of the Los Angeles Basin lost their cell phone service, following a very moderate earthquake that left little damage in most of the areas that felt it. Swaying chandeliers in the City Council Chambers downtown, vitamin bottles leaping off the shelves at a drug store in the San Fernando Valley, and some light structural damage in Orange County.

Big deal. The real problem was the sudden cutoff of cell phone and other phone service that left so many people unable to communicate, as if Los Angeles had undergone a major disaster. Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department says their “safety assessment” this afternoon found no serious damage and no deaths or significant injuries in the city of Los Angeles.

But clearly, with so many cell phones and other phones crapping out for more than an hour, the city's and region's infrastructure is not ready for a serious, big-time earthquake.

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