Newsom, Dellums announce new emergency plan

A new emergency response plan for the Bay Area was announced today as the region prepares for what could be its largest storm in two years.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed joined at a press conference on Treasure Island today to discuss the collaboration.

They said the Regional Emergency Coordination Plan would organize communications among the region's 10 counties in the event of natural and man-made emergencies.

The mayors said the plan will streamline Bay Area cities' ability to work together in providing support for citizens affected by an emergency and will collaborate disaster preparedness efforts such as the cleaning of storm drains and sewers before significant storms.

The emergency plan would come in handy for storms like those descending on the Bay Area today. The weather is expected to bring in about 2 to 4 inches of rain to sea level land. Local mountains could get up to 8 inches between today and Sunday, said Steve Anderson, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Newsom said the new emergency plan “is a framework for collaboration. Disasters know no boundaries. The region is (now) in the best place …to be prepared for a major disaster.”

The plan is the first of its kind in California history, Newsom said.

The mayors said the plan would be helpful when facing disasters similar to that of the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and the 58,000-gallon oil spill in the San Francisco Bay on Nov. 7.

Newsom said if another oil spill occurs, officials will respond with a “much more streamlined approach.”

“But San Francisco is working to change protocols so (a possibly preventable oil spill) doesn't happen again,” he added.

Dellums said, “The oil spill tested all levels of government.”

He said the new emergency response plan “establishes a framework for the identification of additional sources” needed when disasters strike.

“It's not a question of 'whether,' it is a question of 'when,'” Dellums added.

City and county officials said they would hammer out the details of nine subsidiary plans by mid-March.

“The key is now to exercise this plan,” Newsom said.

The program was funded by $2 million federal dollars, according to Newsom.

“There's more work to be done but we are (now) in a position to help each other,” Reed said.

— Bay Area News

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