3 ½ years of BPA Newsletter articles on Emergency Preparedness
By Patrick Muffler, Chair, Emergency Preparedness Committee

I had hoped to be able to report upon the city having established the long awaited Task Force on Disaster Preparedness, but as of August there has been yet another delay.

Over 3 ½ years I have written eleven articles and am finding it harder and harder to find new approaches to things I have said — and that have been said by others — many times before. Not wishing to repeat myself, I'll provide a short synopsis to each article, in the hope that interested readers will go to the web page www.bpaonline.org/eprep-articles for the details.

Spring 2003

  • Types of disasters that might affect Barron Park: earthquakes, floods, toxic spills, and terrorism (this was before pandemic bird flu was emphasized as a concern).

  • Community preparedness vs. household preparedness.

  • Only 20% of the households in Barron Park are prepared.

    Summer 2003

  • A large earthquake along the Hayward Fault would likely rupture the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct, which supplies all of our water.

  • A person can survive for weeks with minimal food, but only a few days without water.

  • Every household needs to prepare for a week without water from any outside source.

    Fall 2003

  • A major emergency could be caused by failure of the electric power grid, as happened on 14 August 2003 throughout the Northeast.

  • Each household needs to provide for its basic needs for several days to a week.

  • Carry an emergency kit in your car.

    Spring 2004

  • Agencies in Palo Alto that deal with Emergency Preparedness: Office of Emergency Services and its PANDA program, Red Cross, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (ARES/RACES).

    Summer 2004

  • Palo Alto's Emergency Community Notification System (automated emergency phone messages to areas affected by a danger).

  • Other possible means of emergency notification (e-mail lists, phone trees) [n.b: this issue is still not resolved, two years later].

    Winter 2004-2005

  • A friend's personal experience with Hurricane Ivan illustrates how aggressive emergency preparedness can allow one to survive a major disaster.

  • A 62% probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2032, disrupting water, gas and electricity supplies.

  • Government resources will be overwhelmed, and that each household must provide for its basic needs for up to a week.

    Spring 2005

  • A general overview of emergency preparedness. Summer 2005

  • The Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity (PANDA) is a program designed to assist the Palo Alto Fire and Police Departments in the event of a major disaster.

  • Barron Park residents encouraged to take the free PANDA training offered by the Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services.

    Winter 2005-2006

  • Emergency preparedness is truly boring, but absolutely essential, since we face a major earthquake hazard with the same potential for devastation as Hurricane Katrina presented to the Gulf Coast. See "Putting down Roots in Earthquake Country" at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2005/15/

  • A list of Web sites related to emergency preparedness, all of which worked on 14 August 2006.

    Spring 2006

  • Successful efforts to divert floodwaters from Barron Creek to Matadero Creek, thus providing 100-year (one-percent) flood protection to Barron Park.

    Summer 2006

  • Personal and Household Preparation for a Possible Bird Flu Pandemic.