Tag Archives: Regional

The Hardest Job

30 Years Later, the Loma Prieta Earthquake Response Remains Jim Aldrich’s Most Difficult

Galveston Island had seen better days. Hurricane Jerry had battered the Texas barrier island cum tourist haunt the day before, leaving flooded roads strewn with flotsam and sand dunes pummeled into the mud. Jim Aldrich of the American Red Cross, who was in Galveston as part of the organization’s recovery effort, had just settled in to watch Game 3 of the World Series from his hotel room. The game’s telecast, aired live from San Francisco, suddenly scratched with static as the frame jerked and spasmed. There was confusion, shouting.

“We’re having an earth-” someone said before the live feed cut to black.

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An aerial view of the collapsed section of the Cypress Structure. The 6.9 earthquake caused the top deck of the highway to fall onto the lower deck, killing 42 people.

It was October 17, 1989, and Northern California had just experienced a catastrophic event, the Loma Prieta earthquake. The 6.9 tremor ravaged homes, infrastructure, and lives from Monterey Bay through the Bay Area, leaving 66 people dead, thousands injured, and tens of thousands homeless. Like Jim, millions watched the quake strike in real time on live television.

The Red Cross contacted Jim, an employee from St. Louis, within hours of the now-cancelled World Series game; he would trade the Texas Gulf Coast for a new deployment to the earthquake response in California. Having 8+ years with the Red Cross and ample disaster experience under his belt, he felt up to the job. However, as he would learn over the next three months, the Loma Prieta response would be the most challenging of his career.
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Critical Fire Weather and Wildfire Starts in Across California

As of Thursday, a Red Flag Warning expired in Northern California but went into effect for Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties through Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service. In addition, more than 170,000 Southern California utility customers are under a power shutoff watch throughout the region. Twenty-two counties in Northern California in recent days have also sustained power shutoffs in preventative wildfire efforts. PG&E has begun restoring power in those Northern California counties. The Red Cross has had logistics teams in place monitoring events across the state. Read more

Fire Weather Warnings Mark the 2017 California Wildfires Anniversary

north-bay-fires_full-sizeTwo years ago today, our counties were struck by one of the most devastating disasters in recent memory. It has been extraordinary, and humbling, to see our communities come together and build back stronger from that terrible event.

Exactly two years to the day after the North Bay Fires, we are facing the nearly identical wind and fuel conditions lasting through the middle of this week. Fortunately, our community has learned important lessons and taken strong early action.

In response to the Fire Weather Watch warnings, Red Cross volunteers are mobilizing to ensure equipment, supplies, and teams are ready to go at a moment’s notice if needed. The Red Cross is in regular communication with government partners to determine potential needs in case a wildfire breaks out. As Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) open or are put on standby, Red Cross Government Liaisons are staffing them and ensuring availability of Red Cross services are known and requested as appropriate.

PG&E’s largest planned power outage yet could coincide with the two-year anniversary of the North Bay fires, a fall forecast combining at least three factors — hot weather, low humidity and strong winds — not seen since the October 2017 firestorm prompting the utility to consider shutting off electricity Wednesday and Thursday in up to 30 Northern and Central California counties. The advisory, affecting millions of residents and appears to exempt only two counties in PG&E’s service territory, Marin and San Francisco. No times or specific areas of the counties were mentioned. Updates will be posted on PG&E’s website, and the utility will also try to contact customers ahead of a shutoff.

Power Outage Preparedness
Visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare for detailed preparedness information.

Below are three simple steps you and your family can take to be ready, should there be an extended power outage that lasts multiple days:

1) Get a kit.

  • Your emergency kit should contain food, water, and other basic supplies to last at least SEVEN days, for each family member.
    • Water – 3 gallons per person per day, a gallon per mid-size pet for every three days
    • Food – non-perishable, nutritious food that requires little or no water or cooking to prepare that will meet the needs of your household
    • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Phone Chargers – A battery-operated or solar-powered phone charger that is big enough to provide several full charges, or one that plugs into your car, plus cords in each of your kits will help you stay informed, take photos, and communicate in an emergency
    • Cash – Keep small bills and change on hand to buy necessary supplies like water.
  • Also, don’t forget to include essential medications, first aid kit, copies of important documents, and special items for children and pets.

2) Make a plan.

  • If you rely on electric or battery-dependent medical technologies such as breathing machines, a power wheelchair or scooter, home oxygen or dialysis or take medications that need refrigeration, it is critical that you have a plan in place for an extended power outage.
  • Know how to manually open your garage door.
  • Fill your gas tank
  • Charge all your devices; Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers
  • Include your pets in your emergency plans. Remember, if you and your family need to evacuate, so does your pet. It’s important to know in advance to know which pet-friendly hotels are in your area, and where your pets can stay in an emergency
  • Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate.
  • Make sure to coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work, and your community’s emergency plans.

3) Be informed.

  • Be informed about which emergencies may occur where you live, work and play, and how to respond as safely as possible.
  • Find out how your local officials will send out emergency alerts during a local disaster (Nixle or other alert notifications system) and sign up to receive their notifications.

 

Safety during a Power Outage
Visit www.redcross.org/poweroutage for full power outage safety information.

Regardless of the reason for their occurrence, power outages can be frustrating and troublesome. For prolonged power outages, there are ways that you can minimize loss and keep everyone as comfortable as possible.

  • Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads will be congested.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances — such as stoves — equipment and electronics that you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.

If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.

  • First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables are safe to eat when they have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Then, use food from the freezer.
  • If the power outage continues beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot, and cover it at all times.

If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside away from doors, windows, and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Operate the generator on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up by poles.
  • Don’t touch a generator with wet hands.
  • Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for additional power outage safety information right at your fingertips.

  • The Emergency App provides real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during power outages and countless other emergencies.
  • Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.

 

A silver anniversary of love

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake, our region has been gathering stories from people who experienced the quake three decades ago in an effort to encourage preparedness today. The following is a story from 2014.

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The long-term relationship between Patsy Gasca, center, and the American Red Cross began the same day the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck almost 30 years ago. This week, the Disaster Program Manager for the Central Coast Chapter took a minute to pose for a photo with Red Cross colleagues Michele Averill (left), chapter CEO, and Camilla Boolootian, regional development officer.
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By Carlos M. Rodriguez

October 17, 1989, started off as an ordinary day for Patsy Gasca. But at 5:04 p.m., the Loma Prieta earthquake struck Northern California, causing widespread damage from the San Francisco metropolis to the much smaller towns in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The 6.9-magnitude earthquake shook the ground for 15 seconds, changing Patsy’s life forever. Before the day was done, the 28-year-old Santa Cruz mother of three would volunteer as a case worker, beginning what has become a 25-year love affair with the American Red Cross. Read more

1989 earthquake was a life-changing moment for Red Cross’ Rick Martinez

Almost 30 years ago, on October 17, 1989, the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake rocked most of Northern California. Particularly hard hit were Bay Area and Central Coast communities, areas that sustained loss of life and catastrophic damage. To commemorate the anniversary of this devastating earthquake, our region has been gathering stories from people who experienced Loma Prieta 30 years ago in an effort to encourage preparedness today. The following is a story that was posted on the Central Coast Chapter web site in December 2017.

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Rick Martinez was photographed at the lifeguard station on the Santa Cruz Wharf in 2017, almost 30 years after the earthquake that introduced him to the American Red Cross.

By Jim Burns

Before he embarked on a career in law enforcement almost 30 years ago, Rick Martinez dreamed of working in the hospitality industry.

“I had been very interested in doing restaurant or hotel/motel work,” he said.

Then the fatally destructive Loma Prieta Earthquake struck with mega-force in October 1989. Read more

Howard Hinkson Returns From 4th Service to Armed Forces Deployment in Iraq

You could say Howard Hinkson was born to serve having been raised in a Navy family moving around the US much of his childhood. Howard started with the Red Cross as a volunteer supporting the 1989 Earthquake. He worked logistics, sheltering, and mass care. He served in a variety of capacities, including volunteer, reserve, and paid staffer. Howard had just come off what he called ‘his second retirement’ when he decided that he needed to return to Iraq. Howard is no stranger to Iraq having deployed previously to COB Speicher, Balad and Camp Victory.  The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) deployment overseas can be “laborious, tedious and dangerous” Howard said. As it turns out, the rewards outweigh all of that. Read more

Red Cross on Stand By during This Week’s Red Flag Warnings

The71111277_3017413478333988_2054345572789256192_n National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning, which is in effect from 1 PM Monday to 11 AM Wednesday. A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. The type of weather patterns that can cause a warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above. Multiple counties in American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region are under Red Flag Warnings, including parts of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and East Bay Hills. Read more

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