by Patrick Muffler, Committee Chair

Battalion Chief Mick McDonald retires from the Palo Alto Fire Department

In June, 2003, Mick McDonald, the long-time leader of emergency preparedness for the City of Palo Alto, will retire. Mick's impact on emergency preparedness has been exceptional. With his vision and leadership, Palo Alto developed the Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity (PANDA) program. This program has trained nearly 250 Palo Alto residents in emergency disaster assistance, in order to assist the Office of Emergency Services and the Palo Alto Fire Department during a major catastrophe.

Mick also was the Palo Alto City liaison with the Barron Park Association in the development of Living with our Faults, the now classic primer for dealing with the earthquake hazard in the Bay Area. The Barron Park Association thanks Mick for his years of dedication to emergency preparedness in Palo Alto and wishes him well in his retirement to Oahu. Aloha!

New Emergency-Preparedness Structure in the City of Palo Alto (adapted from an e-mail received from Palo Alto Fire Chief Ruben Grijalva on Monday 19 May 2003)

The City of Palo Alto has recently restructured its emergency-preparedness program. Previously, emergency preparedness was isolated in the Fire Dept. The city is creating an Emergency Preparedness Operational Group composed of key personnel from all city departments. This Operational Group is headed by Deputy Fire Chief Judy Jewell, who will oversee the Office of Emergency Services. In addition, Police Chief Lynne Johnson will head up the Emergency Preparedness Steering Group, composed of city department heads. The leadership of this Steering Group will rotate yearly between the Police Chief and the Fire Chief.

The City of Palo Alto also will convene an Emergency-Preparedness Round Table once a quarter with outside groups such as the Red Cross, neighborhood associations, and the Emergency Council. The City Manager's Office is charged with coordinating this effort. The Barron Park Association is represented on this Round Table. With regard to PANDA training and continuing education of existing PANDAs, Fire Chief Grijalva wrote that the Palo Alto Disaster Coordinator (Barbara Cimino) will be paired with a Palo Alto Fire Battalion Chief who has an emergency-preparedness background, so that the City will maintain the two-person training team and its on-going level of PANDA training.

Water, water everywhere—except in an emergency!
We are all accustomed to "water on demand". Just turn on the faucet, and let the sprinklers run. Few of us have had any protracted experience in a situation where water was not immediately available from a reliable, virtually unlimited city source. We in Barron Park are certainly in that situation, since all of our water is piped in from the Sierra Nevada via the Hetch Hetchy water system.

But what happens in a big earthquake on the Hayward fault, that runs along the base of the East Bay Hills and is crossed by the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct? The probability is very high that a magnitude 6.7 or 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault will rupture or severely damage the aqueduct. Barron Park, all of Palo Alto, San Francisco, and many other Peninsula cities will be abruptly shut off from this abundant water supply. Faucets, toilets, sprinkling systems, and hydrants simply won't work, probably for a period of many days.

The City of Palo Alto, the State Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other local, state, and federal entities will do their best to supply emergency water for drinking and cooking. But even these stop-gap measures will take several days to a week to implement. Consequently, each household must be prepared to use its own emergency water supplies for up to a week.

Page 13 of Living with our Faults, published by the Palo Alto Fire Department, provides excellent guidelines for emergency water. These guidelines fall into three categories:

The bottom line is that a person can survive for weeks with minimal food, but only a few days without water. Every household needs to take stock of its emergency water sources and to prepare for up to a week without water from any outside source.