Shake Up Call

Last night’s magnitude 6.9 earthquake off of the coast of Eureka, California was reminder that we live in earthquake country.  Thankfully, there were no reports of injuries or damage and the ocean tremor did not generate a tsunami.

Judy was in Tokyo, riding the train to the airport, when the 8.9 Tōhoku earthquake struck. Her immediate reaction was simple: to reach out to her digital networks, and let them know what was happening. Tomorrow, March 11 is the 3rd Anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Earthquakes can happen at any time with little or no warning.  That’s why it’s important to take simple steps now so we’re ready for any emergency.

Get Connected: When disaster strikes, we come together to help each other. Getting prepared is about knowing your neighbors, saying hi to the regulars at the local market, and staying in touch with family and friends—both digitally and in person.

Gather Supplies: Whether you’re just starting out or a preparedness pro, gathering your emergency supplies is easy. A good rule of thumb is to have supplies for about 3 days, or 72 hours. You’ll be surprised at how much you already have.

Make a Plan with your People: A little foresight can go a long way—make a plan now, so you know how to find and get in touch with your people when something happens. The same connections that are important in everyday life—with friends, family, neighbors, and communities—are even more crucial in a crisis.

For more information visit www.sf72.org.  SF72 is your hub for emergency preparedness. You’ll find information about what to do in an emergency, simple steps to get connected, and useful guides to help you get prepared.

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20 Years Ago: The Northridge Earthquake

1994 Northridge Earthquake

1994 Northridge Earthquake (FEMA NEWS PHOTO)

San Franciscans stand with our fellow Californians by remembering the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  We remember the lives that were lost and those that were changed.  The magnitude 6.7 quake caused $25 billion in damage and was the costliest U.S. natural disaster at the time.  Northridge was a not so subtle reminder that we live in earthquake country (Universal City residents received a more subtle reminder this morning).  The 20th Anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake is also about saluting the resilient people that rebuilt their community and worked hard to return to normal life.

More Prepared

Whether you’re just starting out or a preparedness pro, gathering your emergency supplies and planning ahead is easy. A good rule of thumb is to have supplies for about 3 days, or 72 hours. You’ll be surprised at how much you already have. Take simple steps today on www.sf72.org to prepare and plan for any emergency.

Ready for more?  SFDEM encourages you to work with our partners to get even better prepared as a household, neighborhood, or community.

American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter provides a variety of training including first aid, CPR, and how to prepare for emergencies.

Neighborhood Empowerment Network equips SF neighborhoods with tools and programs designed to create safe, clean, and economically resilient communities.

San Francisco Neighborhood Emergency Response Team teaches emergency preparedness and response basics through free hands-on training so you are ready to take care of yourself and others.

Finally, the Earthquake Safety Implementation Program is hosting an Earthquake Retrofit Fair to help people put some backbone into San Francisco’s soft story buildings that can be vulnerable when the ground starts shaking.

Notes from the Field: Haifa, Israel

Occasionally, staff members at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) have an opportunity to travel abroad. They frequently write back with their observations. The following is the first of brief series of blogs journaling the experiences of DEM Deputy Director, Rob Dudgeon, who last week participated in a San Francisco emergency management delegation that visited Haifa, Israel.  The purpose of the visit: to exchange best practices on seismic strengthening programs, early warning systems, emergency preparedness and emergency management.

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As I sit in that strange place between here and there—that place that happens on airplanes when the cabin is dark in a simulated night but the sun outside is bright—I finally have time to reflect on the journey of which I am a part: Israel.

It’s been a few busy weeks since I was asked to join a group headed to Haifa. The ensuing weeks of chaos saw a statewide emergency exercise, the Bay to Breakers run, countless daily distractions and all the usual challenges of coordinating a trip overseas.  Somewhere in all of that we managed to develop a program for an all-day symposium on disasters.  Only now, as I fly over Europe, on the last leg of my journey have I been able to stop and think about the mission beyond the obvious and the opportunities before us.

Our delegation is an interesting cast of characters: San Francisco city officials representing public works, public health, and emergency management joined by the Chair of the Haifa Sister City Commission, the San Francisco Fleet Week Association and a world renowned orthopedic surgeon.  Each of us brings a unique perspective and diverse curiosities.  Some have been to Israel several times while for others it’s our first visit.

Why are we in Israel you may be asking yourself? It all started three years ago when Haifa’s Mayor Yahov, while on a tour of San Francisco City Hall, met San Francisco Department of Public Works Director of City Infrastructure and City Engineer, Fuad Sweiss. The two spent hours discussing building codes and infrastructure, and within days San Francisco received an invitation to visit Haifa and share knowledge.  And now here we are, quite literally on the eve of fulfilling that request.

Tomorrow we share what we know about disaster medicine, emergency management and infrastructure that is built to withstand earthquakes.  We’ll also talk about San Francisco’s unique partnership with the military and the San Francisco Fleet Week Association.

Haifa at Night

Haifa at Night

At first blush, I wondered why Haifa is asking us about disasters. If anything we should be asking them. I mean after all, they’ve seen more mass casualties and emergency events than I can count. Multiple wars and terrorist attacks force a society to live in a state of heightened readiness.  It’s an unfortunate reality of the world today. Building codes that include safe rooms for missile attacks; hospitals with huge surge capacity; and even a medical center with an underground garage that converts to a 2000 bed hospital are all part of daily life in Northern Israel.

Then I got to thinking—they’ve had years preparing for, practicing and ultimately experiencing acts of violence, but the damage done by terrorist attacks is localized to the specific targeted region. Infrastructure may be compromised in the surrounding areas but is generally restored relatively quickly. While the events and after effects are incredibly traumatic, they impact a small percentage of the region’s overall population. An earthquake, on the other hand, impacts wide swaths of a region and the second, third and fourth order effects can be felt globally if major economic or political centers are impacted. So, upon further analysis: there is indeed plenty to share.

Port of Haifa

Port of Haifa

Out of necessity Israel thinks of disaster response in terms of response and recovery to an act of violence; whereas, we spend our time thinking, studying and preparing for catastrophic events. In a few short hours we’ll meet and begin a journey of discovery that will undoubtedly make both cities more resilient. But for now, my new friends and I on the plane sit and doze while we fast forward 10 hours to Israeli time, trying to convince our bodies to ignore the blazing sun peeking under the cabin’s window shades.

Iron Dome standing watch above Haifa – stark reality of where we are and the lessons learned by the people here

Iron Dome standing watch above Haifa which serves as a stark reality of where we are and the lessons learned by the people who live here.

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More about the Author:

Rob HeadshotRob Dudgeon is a Deputy Director in San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management.  In this role he runs the Division of Emergency Services, which is responsible for coordinating the city’s multi-disciplinary response to emergencies, developing emergency plans, managing the city’s exercise program and building community resilience. For the past eight years the division has led the nation in changing the way emergency preparedness is messaged; engaging the whole community emergency management preparedness, response and recovery; and, embracing the power of social media to both build connections and to use during response operations. With three activation teams in rotation, the division is always ready to manage local emergencies or deploy to assist other jurisdictions, which they most recently did during Superstorm Sandy. 

A Quick Look at Golden Guardian in San Francisco

How we prepare now, before a disaster, dictates how we react, respond and recover during the real thing.  A mock 7.8 earthquake in San Francisco seems like a good test!

We’ll go into more detail later about what went on when DEM and our partners were put to the test.  For now check out our photo gallery and our coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle and Emergency Management Magazine!

Photos by Maurice Ramirez – www.mauriceramirez.com

The 107th San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration Photo Montage

We got up very early, we dressed in 1906 style, and we joined our fellow San Franciscans in commemorating one of the most significant natural disasters in California’s history. Please enjoy DEM’s photographs documenting our participation in an annual ritual filled with camaraderie and San Francisco pride.

Special note of appreciation, acknowledgment and thanks to Michael Mustacchi for photographing this special event.

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The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along Powell Street near Union Square.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

The parade ends at historic John’s Grill with an annual Survivor’s Dinner. This year 1906 earthquake survivor Bill Del Monte was able to join the dinner festivities.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

Mayor Brown pictured with 1906 earthquake survivor Bill Del Monte and fellow San Franciscans dedicated to commemorating the anniversary.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

1906 earthquake survivor Bill Del Monte with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

It turned out to be nothing, but a suspicious package reported near Lotta’s Fountain meant a change of venue to Union Square. But the master of ceremony Bob Sarlatte and the event organizers made sure the show went on.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

A ceremony participant observing a minute of silence at the exact time the 1906 San Francisco earthquake occurred: 5:12 am.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

A very loud siren kicks off the minute of silence.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

Ceremony participants dedicated to keeping the tradition to commemorate the anniversary in 1906 period attire.

Ceremony participants dedicated to keeping the tradition to commemorate the anniversary in 1906 period attire.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

From left to right: Supervisor London Breed, Supervisor  David Chiu, DEM Executive Director Anne Kronenberg, and Supervisor Scott Wiener giving remarks during the commemoration ceremony.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White providing remarks on the disaster and its significance to San Francisco’s ability to respond and recover.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

Mayor Lee shared comments about the City’s strength and what we are doing to promote San Francisco’s resilience.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

From left to right Master of Ceremony Bob Sarlatte, Police Chief Greg Suhr, DEM Executive Director Anne Kronenberg, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and a ceremony dignitary.

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

DEM dressed for the occasion!

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Commemoration activities kick-off with a parade along

ShakeOut enthusiasts from southern California made the trip north to join the commemoration.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White helping to give the Golden Hydrant, one of the only working hydrants durning the disaster that saved much of the Mission and surrounding areas from fire.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White giving the Golden Hydrant a fresh coat of gold paint. This hydrant is significant because it was one of the only working hydrants during the disaster   and it saved much of the Mission and surrounding areas from fire.

15628__309HR ©Michael Mustacchi