Even though technology can’t predict when the next big earthquake will strike the Golden State, experts say there are many lessons to be learned from recent natural disasters, including the deadly volcanic in eruption in Guatemala and earthquake in Mexico that killed nearly 400 people last September.

“It's not if, it's when,” said Dr. Kit Miyamoto. “It's 100-percent guaranteed that the big earthquake will happen,” referring to the ‘Big One’ in California.

Miyamoto is a structural engineer who’s based in Sacramento but is currently in Mexico City helping building owners recover and prepare for the next earthquake.

“The September earthquake was almost 200 miles away, but the impact here was tremendous because Mexico City has a soft soil," Miyamoto said.

He says Sacramento could experience similar effects, such as buildings collapsing as a result of a massive earthquake in the Bay Area.

“Immediately, we're going to have an impact because Sacramento – especially downtown – has a very soft soil and that would amplify the motion,” explains Miyamoto.

Miyamoto points out structural damage isn’t the only concern.

“It's going to cause a lot of what we call IDP – internally displaced people,” he added.

Which is why Miyamoto says it's crucial Sacramento is prepared to receive thousands of evacuees after a natural disaster, like an earthquake or volcanic eruption.

According to the California Volcano Observatory, there are three volcanoes categorized as having "very high threat potential," including Mount Shasta.

“Because of the flood threat that we in Sacramento, we're constantly looking at how to deal with the mass care and sheltering issue, so we have plans in place,” said Roger Ince, Sacramento County’s Emergency Services Director.

Ince told ABC10 there are approximately 385 facilities that have been identified as shelters to comfortably house 90,000 to 140,000 evacuees.

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