Local and regional experts will gather in Half Moon Bay May 4 for a disaster preparedness event specifically tailored to those living on the coast.
The Coastside Community Preparedness Day is a City Council priority and has proven to be “very successful” in preparing residents for emergencies, Management Analyst Corie Stocker said at a meeting April 16.
“With the California fire tragedies, we need to prepare for events we don’t know are coming,” she said. “Being on the coastside, we have an issue with evacuation.”
Mayor Harvey Rarback echoed the importance of disaster preparedness in an area that is accessible via only two major roads.
“Disaster preparation is particularly important on the coastside, where we may temporarily lose access to the main roads to and from our community,” he said in a press release. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to prepare their family and property for either a large-scale disaster, or a smaller, more localized emergency. It’s easy and doesn’t cost much to do and if all of us are well-prepared, the entire coastside community will be more resilient and better able to withstand and recover from disaster.”
The event will feature as many as 15 emergency response vehicles, including fire engines and a search and rescue truck, as well as 20 or so informational booths representing agencies throughout the county, including the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services, American Red Cross and Coastside Emergency Action Program, among others. Translators as well as food, drink and a raffle will also be offered.
“A lot is crammed into two blocks,” said Emergency Preparedness Specialist Kevin Rose, adding that he expects hundreds of people to attend the event if the weather cooperates.
Rose’s agency plans to organize a handful of these region-specific disaster preparedness events in addition to the countywide one typically offered in September.
“These geographic preparation days have local flavor not just in where they’re held but to highlight what’s going on in an individual’s community and to get to know the resources that are out there,” Rose said. “All disasters are local. First responders are also normal folks and it grows from there.”
Rose said residents who attend the event will learn where exactly to go should a tsunami hit, the protocol for evacuating large animals such as horses in the event of a disaster as well as which trails can be used to transport resources between the Bayside to the coastside if major roads are compromised.
“If major routes closed, we still have phenomenal trails, private roads and park roads that are available [between the Bayside and coastside of the county],” he said.
The event will also have a maritime focus, Rose said, and representatives from the Harbor District and Cliff Dive Unit are among the experts expected to attend.
Another group called the Disaster Air Resource Team that trains local pilots to transport resources in the event of a disaster will be at the event.
“These smaller pilots could act as a conduit from the Peninsula to the East Bay to transport supplies, materials or personnel like Dunkirk in the sky,” Rose said.
Stocker said residents will walk away from the event with a better understanding of the resources available to them on the coast and expects to see an uptick in signups for the Community Emergency Response Team and SMC alert, a San Mateo County notification system for emergencies.
“We have wonderful services on the coast and we’re not alone. I think people fear we’re here by ourselves,” she said. “[The event] shows how we all work together as smaller pieces in this giant puzzle of figuring out how we’re going to prepare our community for potential disaster.”
The event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Main Street at Kelly Avenue and it is book-ended by two other nearby events: the farmers’ market and a concert downtown.
There is also a related event Thursday regarding the communication breakdown following a power outage in the Devil’s Slide tunnels that resulted in hours of gridlock on Highway 1 and State Route 92 in March. The event will be held a 7 p.m. at the Half Moon Bay High School multiuse room and it will feature state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Assemblymen Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, and Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, as well as representatives from Caltrans, Pacific Gas and Electric, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102