The area has been hit by several damaging quakes over the past few decades. My boss was there for the 1979 quake (M6.6) which toppled the Brawley CA water tower. He was always showing cool pics of the damage.
All the time I lived there I can say that I experienced only one tiny tremor. I had been chilling on the sofa when I felt a slight vibration. My boss had taught me well to immediately record the time whenever you felt a shaking or a vibration. Sure enough there was a M2 only about 50 miles away at that exact moment. So now the area gets hit with a M7 only a couple of months after experiencing a M6. I guess I was just "lucky" to have been living in the area during one of the more quiet periods. My friend got to experience the M6 in the best possible way. He was out in the middle of nowhere along the Salton Sea. Remember: Earthquakes don't kill people (unless you get scared and have a heart attack), it's buildings and things falling that kill people.