Earthquakes and Preparedness
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Earthquakes and Preparedness
Last Saturday, March 19, I had the pleasure of attending the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) skills day and graduation. The weather that day was rainy and cold and downright miserable. Approaching the Fire Station where the activities were taking place, I could not help but wonder what the day would be like for the graduating CERT members and how they would fare in the weather conditions.

I asked a couple of firefighters about how the students were performing in such miserable conditions and expecting a comment like they were just going through the motions. To my surprise and delight, they responded that the events could not have been going any better. I asked some of the volunteers similar questions and received similar responses. The consensus was that disasters do not pick ideal times or weather conditions to happen. It became clear that those who were practicing their skills seemed to understand and were making the best of the situation.

While talking with a group of volunteers, the conversation moved to the tragedy and devastation occurring in Japan from the recent earthquake and following tsunami. We discussed the subject of tsunamis and the possible effect one would have on Foster City. We are protected by a Coastal Mountain range that would take the brunt of any tsunami. However, a tsunami would have devastating effects on our Coastal Communities. The tsunami that hit Half Moon Bay, as small as it was, created havoc with boats and the harbor area.

If a 50-foot tsunami were to enter the Golden Gate, the main force of the water would be directed toward the cities of Emeryville and Berkeley spreading both north and south as it approached the East Bay. The wall of water would disperse as it headed to the north and the south toward San Jose. That 50-foot wave would pass through the width at the Golden Gate Bridge area (2 plus miles) and by the time the water reached the San Mateo Bridge; the water would be spreading out over an area 7 plus miles in width by the time it reached Foster City.

The events occurring in the month of March should have heightened our awareness to multiple disasters. Earthquakes are a familiar visitor to our region while tsunamis are rare. The earthquake in Japan and the tsunami that followed should encourage us to look up and take notice. Also, it seems to me that we are witnessing more tornados although small as compared to those in the mid-west. A tornado knocked down a power line in Santa Rosa and another was spotted in Half Moon Bay resulting in the issuing of a tornado watch.

We are faced with the possibilities and probabilities of some type of disaster affecting Foster City and our surrounding areas. A look at what is happening in Japan should make us be more aware of the potential of something devastating occurring in and around our City. Earthquakes and the Bay Area are not strangers as witnessed by those that occurred in 1906 and 1989.

As I have stated before, disasters show little respect for jurisdictional or personal boundaries. Should a disaster happen, our entire city could be affected. Foster City has an extremely successful CERT program (over 600 graduated so far) which is predicated on the premise of neighbor helping neighbor. I continue to be proud to live in a community where my fellow residents are willing to spend their time to be trained and prepared to help each other. More and more CERT graduates are becoming involved as volunteer instructors to future graduates and I would like to recognize them for their efforts to the community.

In the event of a disaster, you could be hurt and isolated for several days before help is able to arrive. Are you as prepared as you could or should be for such a situation?

I would appreciate your comments on this and other issues by emailing me at

Council Corner

March 30, 2011
Earthquakes and Preparedness

City Hall - 610 Foster City Blvd.
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 286-3200