Alamedans: Prepare for the Next ‘Big One’

Sherman Street residents spearhead effort at National Night Out event

When my husband and I moved from San Francisco to Alameda in 2011, the warm welcome we received encouraged us to get involved and contribute to our new and unique Island life. After settling into our home in the 1500 block of Sherman Street in 2013, we joined our neighbors to help organize and participate in National Night Out (NNO).  

Since 2014 Ashley Rogers, Mike Stevenson and their two sons have hosted our potluck gathering and barbecue, allowing the kids to play in their driveway and their backyard. Everybody contributes whatever they can. Every year we try to connect with old and new neighbors. I think we have at least eight different languages spoken on this block.

Two months ago, I got together with neighbors to prepare for this year’s NNO. We saw the need to further improve communication with our neighbors. We thought it necessary to prepare our block for real emergencies — especially the inevitable earthquake, which will likely disconnect Alameda from the mainland. This may very well leave us with little water, no electricity, little extra food and just 25 police officers and 25 firefighters and paramedics to help 80,000 people.

Captain Sharon Oliver from the Alameda Fire Department Station No. 3, who is in charge of Alameda’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) put me in contact with one of the volunteers of Map Your Neighborhood Alameda, Lynn Seng, who gave us an introduction, valuable advice and material to start the process. In fact, she is still helping us to stay on track.

After reaching out to other neighbors, we now have 10 volunteers who we call “block ambassadors.” Their primary goal is to reach out to the 59 residential units on the block. Our hope is that information leaflets will be handed out with every new rental agreement so that new residents can reach out to one of the “block ambassadors” if they wish. For this purpose we have invited landlords as well as homeowners to join our effort. 

We decided that the Aug. 7 NNO would be a perfect venue to start our effort. We printed out a flyer and personally knocked on every unit and invited every neighbor. A neighbor on Santa Clara Avenue, longtime CERT volunteer Jerry Juhala, offered to come discuss the program and demonstrate his ham radio.

We prepared an information table so neighbors can talk to us, pick up information on CERT training, on how and what they can do for their basic personal preparedness and to see first hand what some of the preparedness items look like.

To join or find out more about the effort to prepare everyone in Alameda for the next big earthquake, feel free to write Lynn Seng at