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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

On 9/11, Palo Alto Will Become “Quakeville” For Extensive Disaster Drill Involving Public

August 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment

Readers of this blog know how excited I get about creative, well-planned emergency exerrcise that involve the public. So, I wanted to bring your attention to “Quakeville,” an two-day earthquake drill in Palo Alto, California that begins on September 11th. As described in an article at Palo Alto Online:

The ground is shaking violently. Family heirlooms and knickknacks are flying like projectiles off walls and shelves. Glass is shattering, and the rolling motion seems to go on forever. When the “Big One” strikes, residents could find their homes uninhabitable, and figuring out how to live in the hours, days and weeks after a major disaster will become their No. 1 concern.

The scenario is the focus of a Sept. 11 disaster drill planned for Barron Park residents, who will erect a tent city at Juana Briones Park. It won’t be a neighborhood picnic. People will have to bring their own tents, water and food. Grills won’t be allowed. There will be no electricity for the duration of the event, which runs from 3:30 p.m. till 10 a.m. the next day.

Some surprise incidents, mimicking possible real-life disaster scenarios, are planned to test people’s responses, according to event coordinator Lydia Kou. Dubbed “Quakeville,” the drill is designed to shake people out of their denial.

Quakeville will kick off a series of citywide disaster-preparedness events throughout September and October. Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt and the Palo Alto/Stanford Citizen Corps Council have declared September as Emergency Preparedness Month citywide….

This is the first year that citizens will be involved in the “Quakeville” drill which may take on even more seriousness after a report this week that revised up the risk of earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault:

Quakeville will put disaster preparedness into the hands of the citizenry, who will be the first on the ground to deal with neighborhood emergencies, Kou said. ”It’s exciting because it involves all citizens. In the past, drills involved emergency volunteers only,” said Kou, who also is co-chair of the Palo Alto Neighborhoods block-preparedness-coordinator program and is a Barron Park Neighborhood Association disaster-prep leader.

Kou said Quakeville will help give residents a sense of what they might encounter, and need, when forced out of their homes and into close contact with many other people. ”Will you need earplugs in case the person sleeping in the tent next to you snores? Will you need hay-fever medicine? How will you entertain yourself and your kids?”

It’s funny that she mentions earplugs, because that is exactly the item I added to my ‘go-bag’ after spending a noisy day in a shelter during a hurricane drill in Brooklyn.

I am also supportive of the decision to undertake the drill on 9/11, which I think should be an official preparedness day in which exercises like the one in Palo Alto would be done throughout the U.S.:

“Sept. 11 is a very appropriate day for people to come together to commemorate friendships and lives lost,” she said, adding that the city is encouraging other neighborhoods to hold block parties on Sept. 11 to build community connections. ”It’s an act of remembrance,” she said…

One area she hopes to resolve is what to do with pets. For the Sept. 11 event, organizers are encouraging people not to bring their animals. But at tent city they’ll look for ways to resolve that concern, she said.

The Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services headquarters

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Tags: City Preparedness · Earthquake Preparedness · Preparedness Events

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Claire B. Rubin // Aug 22, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Sounds good. Given the newly-underscored risk regarding the San Andreas Fault hopefully public officials at all levels will crank up their preparedness activities.

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