City Works to Mitigate Future Hazards

City Works to Mitigate Future Hazards

The City of Alameda’s award-winning Climate Action & Resiliency Plan sets the ambitious goal of reducing dangerous carbon emissions by 50 percent below the level they were in 2005 by 2030, through equitable improvements in transportation, buildings, energy use, and waste management.

The City is now updating its Climate Adaptation & Hazard Mitigation Plan, which addresses the hazards of earthquakes, floods, sea level and groundwater rise, tsunamis, heat, smoke, power outages, and dam failure inundation.

To help share this work with you, I talked with Danielle Mieler, the City’s Sustainability and Resilience Manager. Here’s a summary of the draft plan, with more information online at www.alamedaca.gov/hazardmitigationplan.

What hazards are of the greatest concern for Alameda residents and businesses?
Earthquakes and sea level rise are the two hazards with the highest likelihood for consequences in Alameda. We know that an earthquake could occur at any time on a nearby fault and would result in significant damage to many of Alameda’s older buildings and infrastructure.

Sea level rise is a slower-moving disaster, but its consequences for Alameda are huge. We anticipate that without significant efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, water levels could be 3.5 feet higher than they are today by 2070 and reach 6 to 7 feet by 2100. This would cause significant permanent flooding of our shoreline while rising groundwater will cause flooding in the interior of the island.

What is the City doing to prepare for these disasters?
As an island community, preparing for disasters is a citywide priority. We’ve prepared buildings with seismic retrofits, requiring gas shut-off valves, and upgrading air filtration systems at our libraries and the Mastick Senior Center to serve as Cooling/Clean Air Centers on hot and smoky days.

We’ve prepared our infrastructure, including evaluating and upgrading all estuary crossings, upgrading the Ballena Bridge, constructing a new Emergency Operations Center and Fire Station #3, and purchasing two water tenders capable of pulling water from the Bay to fight fires.

We’ve prepared policies that regulate construction in flood zones, require owners of soft-story apartment buildings to have their buildings seismically evaluated with automatic gas shut-off valves installed (so far 164 of 222 apartment buildings in Alameda have been retrofitted).

The city continues to provide home upgrade grants to low-income property owners and property owners that rent to low-income tenants.

We’ve prepared plans including tsunami inundation evacuation and emergency response plans, an update to the Health and Safety Element of the General Plan, and the draft Climate Adaptation & Hazard Mitigation Plan, with more than 40 strategies to prepare Alameda for disasters.

What can residents do to prepare their homes and families for disasters?
To help prevent damage and keep your household safe, secure movable items in your space, secure or remove brick chimneys, anchor gas appliances, store food and water, and subscribe to AC Alerts, which is how the City will contact you in an emergency, at www.acalert.org. Homeowners can also apply for a seismic retrofit grant at www.earthquakebracebolt.com.

What about in the event of a tsunami in Alameda?
Alameda’s most significant tsunami risk comes from distant earthquakes (for example, off the coast of Alaska), which would not damage the transportation network here in Alameda. Recently updated tsunami maps show that while the probability of a tsunami impacting Alameda is low, the risk of damage could be high.

If there is a tsunami with the need to evacuate residents, the City and Alameda County will work together to issue warnings that alert the public about what to do to stay safe.

We know that Central Avenue is the highest point in Alameda, and community members would be encouraged to walk or bicycle to the center part of the main island or drive/bike beyond I-880. Community members west of Grand Street would exit through the tubes, and east of Grand Street would exit over the Park Street, Fruitvale, and High Street bridges.

Bay Farm Island would exit via Doolittle or Ron Cowan Parkway by car or bus. Community members on Bay Farm Island can also bicycle or walk to the main island. A small tsunami could be caused by a local earthquake. If community members feel a strong earthquake, they should immediately evacuate the beaches and marinas and move inland.

Please visit the website to learn more and to sign up to stay engaged in this work at www.alamedaca.gov/hazardmitigationplan.

Sarah Henry is the Public Information Officer for the City of Alameda.