The next installment of Block Action Team (BAT) Leader training is coming soon (Feb 27). To sign up, fill in this form (ed: old link removed) or click on the “Block Action Team” button that’s on the menu bar above if you want more information. There you will find a description of the program and a link to the sign-up form. Signing up for the presentation doesn’t commit you to being a BAT Leader – you can make that decision at the session itself. The first two hours of the presentation describes the driving forces behind the program and a high-level view of how BATs will help after an earthquake. Then its time for you to decide – do you want to be a BAT Leader or not? Those interested in being a BAT Leader will stay longer and we’ll take your picture for an ID badge, hand out some BAT organizing material and explain how some of the more important forms will be used. So go ahead – click on the button above and join us on the 27th to learn more about the program. Or ask yourself, if not you, then who?
I attended an earthquake preparedness workshop presented by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the other day where several large agencies and companies presented what they have to done to strengthen their part of the public infrastructure since Loma Prieta hit 25 years ago. Everyone agrees that Loma Prieta was just a wake-up call and this session was asking the question “did we wake up or what?” It was interesting to hear presentations from PG&E, San Francisco Water and Sewer (which runs Hetch Hetchy and supplies drinking water to Los Altos and the surrounding communities), CalTrans and more. After the presentations the speakers participated in a panel discussion to answer questions.
One common theme through all presentations was that in their efforts to strengthen their part of the infrastructure, the focus was on resiliency and not necessarily trying to “earthquake-proof” everything. The consensus was that it was next to impossible to earthquake-proof everything, if not technically, at least financially. Things will break. There will be disruptions” was heard over and over again. So the goal is to build so that it is easy to bring things back into service quickly.
The presentation by CalTrans was particularly interesting. They explained how over the years they learned that simply building bigger and stronger wasn’t the answer. They used the eastern span of the Bay Bridge as an example. Parts of the bridge are designed to fail during an earthquake. But the design is such that these components can be easily and quickly replaced without shutting the bridge down for weeks or even months. Another concern was all the overpasses. They have spent billions strengthening the support columns but CalTrans admits that some roads may be impassible for days after a major eqrthquake. Which brings me to the title of this article.
During the panel discussion the USGS moderator noted that all the major food stores bring in their supplies from the central valley over Interstate 580. If a bridge fails on that route, the food supply into the entire bay area will be severely impacted. How much? The moderator said there was over 300 trucks a day that use the 580 corridor. Think about it – 300 every day seven days a week, and each of those is probably two trailers full of food. That’s a lot of food. And another reason why we need to be prepared to be on our own for at least 72 hours without outside help. And some argue that 72 hours isn’t enough, but that’s for another article.
The first Block Action Team (BAT) Leader training session was a huge success. Forty two Los Altos residents met on January 29th for three hours to learn the steps necessary to be a successful BAT Leader. Topics such as working with your neighbors and preparing family emergency plans were discussed. BAT Leaders also heard how the BAT program will, after a major emergency such as an earthquake, provide the City leaders with crucial information which will allow First Responders to better react to the emergency. At the end of the training, the newly trained BAT Leaders were provided with a BAT Information kit that will help them gather and organize the information necessary to make their BAT better prepared.
“This program is really needed” was one of the many positive comments made by the attendees after the presentation. A common theme heard during conversations was “we really need to get organized.” One BAT Leader summarized it by saying “I am very happy to see our city get active – or at least our citizens.”
New BAT Leader Training is held just about every month. Visit the BAT Leader Training Signup page and join us at one of our future sessions. Don’t worry – this doesn’t commit you do being a leader, it just gets you in the training session. But we are confident that once you go through the training, you will want to be a BAT Leader.
A Block Action Team (BAT) is a group of neighbors who want to work together to prepare for disasters, prevent crime, look out for seniors involve youth and, of course, socialize.