On the 22nd anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, federal and state emergency officials met with Bay Area leaders to discuss the role of communities in overcoming natural disasters.
The discussion was part of a commemorative conference at San Francisco's City Hall on Monday morning, remembering community actions that helped The City recover after the quake and urging similar cooperative efforts in future disasters.
“We promised those we lost and their families that we would be better prepared, so since Loma Prieta, we've made great strides … we've built the city better,” California Emergency Management Agency Acting Secretary Mike Dayton said.
Dayton said the agency is working to send the message to San Francisco residents that preparedness is key for future earthquakes and other emergencies.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Deputy Administrator Rich Serino echoed Dayton's words, highlighting the critical role of “neighbors helping neighbors” in increasing survival rates during emergencies.
“The most important part of the team is survivors and the public at large,” he said. “They have to be involved in taking care of themselves and taking care of their communities.”
Serino and San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Barbara Garcia said it's also crucial that members of the public, government and private businesses — from large supermarkets to small local restaurants — work together to help cities recover from catastrophes.