November Town Hall Report

Saturday, December 13, 2014

None of the speakers at the RCPC November Town Hall mentioned ostriches, but all made it clear that living in the Bay Area and failing to prepare for earthquakes or other major disasters was nothing more than hiding one's head in the sand.

"The Hayward Fault is on a 140-year repeat cycle," said presenter Howard Cook of Bay Area Retrofit, "and it's been 146 years since the last major quake on that fault. We are due." Cook's approach to disaster response is to harden the target, to make your home as resistant to destructive forces as possible. "It's a major inconvenience if you are prepared; a disaster if you are not," he suggested.

Earthquakes may dominate predictions of Bay Area disaster, but they are not the only sources of potential trouble. Consider, for example, the Oakland Firestorm of October, 1991. But, two years before that fire, it was after an earthquake - Loma Prieta, October 17, 1989 - when the Oakland Fire Department and other first responders realized that no city could mount an effective response to a full-scale disaster and that many citizens would be on their own for some time.

To fill that support gap, the Oakland Fire Department developed the CORE program, or Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies, to teach a community how to survive for seven to 10 days after a disaster, about the time expected for professional first responders to arrive.

The CORE program, speakers explained, has three training modules - Core I, Core II and Core III - that begin with becoming aware of home hazards and safety needs, move on to building a neighborhood resource network and conclude with basic aspects of search and rescue, first aid and disaster response organization. There is, of course, much more information on the CORE web site at
RCPC thanks Howard Cook for his discussion of the intricacies of strengthening foundations; Jeff Morelli, Assistant CORE Coordinator; Rockridge resident Carol Strickman, a former CORE teacher and trainer; and Eileen Levin, CORE outreach co-chair, for their report on the skills and support available to those who enroll in and complete the free-of-charge training.