Coastside continues to prepare for the Big One

Loma Prieta happened without me.  That was not the big one and this week’s shaker was only a burp.  They are reminders of the ONE to come…  Why is this important?  The liklihood of continued quake activity is based on where we live in North America, from the article on Bay Area Earthquake Probabilities from USGS.  It doesn’t matter if you live in the North Bay, San Francisco, South Bay, Alameda County or Contra Costa County.  What matters is that we share ways to remind each other of the importance of relative readiness.  It’s like insurance, we prepare in the hopes of not having to use it.

It felt like a steady rumble for several…long…seconds.  Halfway through the rock and roll, my teenage son quickly finds me – highly unusual for him to track me down so quickly these days (except, of course, if it’s because he needs some $$).  His speed impressed me.  Basketball practices must be paying off.  I realized that he had never felt an earthquake before.  He wasn’t even a dream in ’89.  I said, “Yep, that’s an earthquake.”  Nothing fell, burst, or cracked.  Phew!  Ok, back to what I was doing…But, of course, it got me thinking again “are we ready?? – NO!”

In 1989, I was on a business trip back East, my daughter was 9 months old and in day care.  I’ll never forget how I felt watching those surreal images on TV of the Bay Bridge, and the SF Marina – combined with no phone service for over 12 hours to know how anyone in my family had fared.  Was the day care center affected?  Where is my daughter now?  Could my husband get back “over the hill” to pick her up?  How badly was Mountain View hit where he worked?  Is my house ok? Neighborhood still ok?  The questions went on and on…with no means of communication.

Fortunately, even with the San Andreas reminding us of her presence, our house came out of it unscathed except for Grandma looking back at us a bit sideways.  So this time, I guess part of me knew that it would have to be a BIG ONE to get me worked up.  In any event, I need reminders like anyone.  And I look at Earthquake Disclosure forms every day!

The very things that make the Coastside most desirable, like seclusion and less traffic, can have a downside also.  One downside for us is our limited access in times of emergency.  We’ve been through it with Devil’s Slide closures.  Here’s a few handy references while the media is keeping this subject top of mind (to borrow from real estate terminology):

San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services (OEM) – Disaster Preparedness Links


“The Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services [OES] is funded through a Joint Powers Agreement between the 20 incorporated cities and the County of San Mateo. The Cities contribute money to fund the JPA based upon a formula that takes into account the population and average assessed property value of each city. The County then matches the funds contributed by the cities. The remainder of the OES budget comes from state and federal Emergency Management Assistance program funds.”  From the About section of SM County OEM website (link above).

My question:  How are our Coastside’s unincorporated areas like Moss Beach and Montara covered within these budget guidelines?  I’ll get back to you.

And more…  Local news here is that OEM plans to have installed new signs with safe evacuation routes (or how to quickly leave the coast) will soon be posted.  They are also in the works of preparing to install tsunami sirens.  This from the October 31, 2007 edition of the Half Moon Bay Review titled:  “Tsunami signs…”

*Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety, 2005 Edition – Source:  Disclosure Source
*Note:  This handout is a state law requirement in a sale transfer.

The biggest MUST DO’s if you haven’t done this already:

  1. Strap your water heater properly
  2. Have a wrench handy and know how to turn off your gas at the meter
  3. Contact someone out of our area to be the “hub” of communications

These 3 you can do today.  There are lots of web resources linked in this post for future reference.  I will be writing more on this subject as I find even more community resources for us.  This and other related posts in the future will be archived under “Emergency Preparedness”.

My final reminder to get prepared using visual aides…

Daly City, San Mateo County, CA – Loma Prieta 1989 (1)

Santa Cruz County, CA – Loma Prieta 1989 (2)

(1,2) – courtesy of, earthquake photos.

What are neighboring communities doing to prepare?
Ask these hyper-local HOMESCOPES experts.