Preparing for the ‘Big One’

Courtesy USGS    It’s only a matter of time before Alamedans have to deal with the aftermath of a major earthquake.


Plans to prepare a neighborhood for the next big earthquake will require shopping, studying and answering some basic questions. Some of these efforts might including coordinating with neighbors or local officials. 

Stuff to get
Having certain items conveniently accessible is essential for both neighborhoods and individuals:

  • “To-go bags” either commercially made or do-it-yourself versions both work well.
  • Emergency rations
  • Solar-powered generators provide an excellent short-term energy supply. Sherman Street neighbors plan to purchase four units per block to power everything from oxygen machines to cell phones in an emergency.
  • FEMA information leaflets in four languages

Stuff to know ahead of time
When disaster strikes is not the time to search Google for answers. Know ahead of time:

  • What water purifying methods are available.
  • What documents should be prepared for emergencies.
  • How much water to store.

Specific arrangements
Individuals in the neighborhood might have health needs that go beyond the commonplace.Commuters also have specific needs and could be separated from their homes for many days:

  • Neighbors may need special help leaving the house.
  • Neighbors might be highly allergic or need ongoing medical attention.
  • Commuters may have children or pets who need attention.

Information to gather
In the effort to be sure that all neighbors are cared for during an emergency, a block captain or other coordinator should obtain:

  • Emergency contacts off the Island for each resident.
  • Locations of shut off valves for gas, water and electricity at each address.

Know what to do
Each person potentially has something unique to contribute to the preparedness effort:

  • Do you have a certain skill that you can offer in the case of an emergency?
  • What languages do you speak or can you translate?
  • Nurses, carpenters, contractors, care givers, teachers, psychologists and other relevant professionals all can contribute greatly in an emergency. 
  • Do you have material or machinery available, including: ladders, tents, shovels, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, etc.?
  • Can you provide space to host child or elder care?

Taking the time and care to prepare following this guide will go a long way to minimizing the impact of the next earthquake.