Homeland Security dollars have helped San Mateo County purchase siren warnings for tsunami alerts, improved communications systems, and an all-purpose emergency vehicle that resembles a tank, according to officials.
From 2003-05, San Mateo received its own, separate Urban Area Security Initiative grants from the federal government for terrorism and emergency prevention and response needs — receiving more than $3 million in three years.
Now, per federal instruction, San Mateo is joined with San Francisco and other Bay Area counties when applying for Homeland Security dollars.
Since 2006, when the Bay Area merged all 10 counties to form a Super Urban Area Security Initiative grant, San Mateo County has received just under $400,000 for county-specific needs, but also gets a share of the group's overall funding for regional projects, according to Lt. Murray Randleman of San Mateo County's Office of Emergency Services.
The county has been productive in its use of the federal grant money, according to Randleman. In 2004, it purchased nine tsunami warning sirens, costing $15,000 apiece. The sirens, placed in coastal areas potentially at risk of tsunamis, would alert citizens of any approaching giant waves, or could be potentially used for other emergency evacuation purposes, according to Randleman.
The county has also purchased a tactical rescue vehicle for $200,000, an air truck to refill oxygen tanks for $180,000, and four shelter trailers for $32,000 apiece, among other projects.
With much of its machinery needs addressed already, the county will focus on operational and communication projects in the future, Randleman said. Requests for more personal ham radios and funding for the expansion of community emergency response teams are included in this year's SUASI request, he said.
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