DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The deadly Northridge earthquake ripped through the Southland while most people were fast asleep in January 1994, flatting highways, bursting gas lines and squashing buildings.
Experts said 24 years later the next big one isn't a matter of if, but when.
Eyewitness News caught up with Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones at the first "Future of Resilience" event at the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society in downtown Los Angeles on the anniversary of the quake.
"This is the longest interval Los Angeles has ever had without a damaging earthquake - the 24 years since Northridge," she said.
She said in a lot of ways, Southern California is far more prepared now than it was on Jan. 17, 1994, but more people had lived through other earthquakes then.
"The good news of Northridge in this bizarre way was that we had a damaging earthquake in Los Angeles every year for seven years leading up to the event. So it was high in people's awareness, we need to get back to remembering: we need earthquake insurance, we need our water, we need a family plan," she said.
For a younger generation that doesn't remember the Northridge earthquake, technology and social media play a role in introducing the potential destruction.
"That damage that used to be, 'oh yeah, that happened off somewhere there,' is now pictures on our phone and it allows those disasters to be more real," she said.
She added we need to change our perception to be better prepared.
"We need to move beyond thinking of earthquakes as a threat to our lives because you're far more likely to die on the freeway or even be murdered than to die in an earthquake," she said. "But it is a huge threat to our pocketbooks and to our way of life and when that falls apart, people give up and leave and we all will lose out."
Jones went on to say that it is actually one of her biggest fears - that people will start abandoning Southern California after the next big one hits.