Sunset Elementary School students practice a earthquake safety drill. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)

FEMA funds retrofits for 27th anniversary of Loma Prieta quake

Monday marks the 27th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which killed 63 people in Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Cruz, damaged 12,000 homes and 2,600 businesses, causing an estimated $6 billion in damage.

The 25th anniversary of the Oakland-Berkeley Hills Fire will follow on Wednesday, marking a quarter-century since the firestorm killed 25 people, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and caused about $1.5 billion in damage.

In the years since, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has leveraged $201 million to reduce future damages from Bay Area earthquakes and fires, according to FEMA spokesperson Mary Simms.

These funds, which are leveraged with state funds to cover about 75 percent of a project’s cost, have been used for seismic retrofits, fire risk reduction and flood elevation projects to protect homes and other local infrastructure.

FEMA recently approved a $3 million grant for the Safer Housing for Oakland: Soft Story Apartment Retrofit Program, which will retrofit between 35 and 50 Oakland apartment buildings, Simms said.

Another $3 million was approved for the Earthquake-Safe Homes Program, which will retrofit up to 300 one- to four-unit homes in Oakland.

FEMA also awarded $4 million in flood mitigation elevations in Sonoma County this year, Simms said.

BART is on track to complete the renovations planned in its Earthquake Safety Program, which was originally budgeted for $1.3 billion, including $980 million in bonds approved by voters in 2004, Simms said.

BART is set to complete the work, including retrofitting nearly 90 miles of track, $30 million under budget. BART engineers expect the Transbay Tube and much of the system in general to be able to withstand a 500-year seismic event, Simms said, adding that key BART structures are safer than many East Bay buildings.

Thursday is International ShakeOut Day, when schools, businesses and local and state government agencies will hold earthquake drills at 10:20 a.m. local time.

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