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'Surviving Big One' Host Fares Well in Earthquake

January 31, 1994|LEE MARGULIES | TIMES TELEVISION EDITOR

How did the host of a much-seen TV program on earthquake preparedness fare in the Jan. 17 temblor that originated beneath his four-bedroom home in Northridge?

Just fine, says Henry Johnson, the retired fireman who is the host of the 1989 production "Surviving the Big One: How to Prepare for a Major Earthquake," which KCET-TV Channel 28 produced in 1989 and aired repeatedly last week.

Johnson was out of state at the time, but he said that the four family members who were home were unhurt and that the house came through "extremely well"--a few cracks and downed cinder blocks but no structural damage.

That their home stood up to the ferocious shaking so well was mainly luck, Johnson acknowledged, but the family was well-prepared for the aftermath--which is the point of "Surviving the Big One." They used the radios, flashlights and batteries that they had stored for such an emergency, but didn't need to tap the 55-gallon water drums because bottled water was readily available in stores, he said.

KCET said that it has sold 6,000 copies of "Surviving the Big One" since Jan. 17. The tape, which has been updated twice since the original production, is available at Home Depot stores or by calling (800) 343-4727.

The station plans to revise the program again to incorporate information learned from this latest earthquake and will broadcast the new version March 5, with Johnson again the host.

"You cannot make a building earthquake-proof--I'm convinced of that--but in North America, we have buildings that do very, very well," Johnson said.

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