The L.A.-area offices of the U.S. Geological Survey, the primary folks responsible for earthquake information in Southern California, have cleared out.
The federal government's shutdown has forced the workers to head home, a USGS representative who did not want to be named, told us. Even famed seismologist Lucy Jones, the face of public information when big temblors hit the Southwest and other parts of the planet, had left the building, the worker said:
A few people representing essential personnel would stay on-duty, our source said, and others would be on-call should the Big One hit.
But other than that the offices were clearing out this afternoon and computers were being powered down, she said: “We are all shutting down our computers.”
The USGS' main website went into skeleton mode today, informing viewers that …
… due to the Federal government shutdown, usgs.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable.
Only web sites necessary to protect lives and property will be maintained.
USGS spokeswoman Karina Gutierrez wouldn't even answer a reporter's questions, saying:
I can't answer any media requests right now. I'm off the clock.
Indeed, the source who didn't want to be named said that USGS workers were not expecting to be paid and weren't sure when they would be back to work at the Survey's Pasadena offices.
Deborah Williams-Hedges of Caltech, the famed university that partners with USGS to provide earthquake data, says:
We're still fully open and functioning whether it's earthquake-related or our normal research. We're still open.
Good to know.
We asked Gutierrez of the USGS who we should call if the Big One struck. She didn't have a specific answer but offered up a little comfort: “During an event we'll make sure we'll be on-hand.”