Making S.F. ready for next big quake is a shared responsibility

This week, we mark the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. The events of Oct. 17, 1989, serve as a stark reminder that even though the Bay Area’s faults have been quiet for 20 years, we are not immune to the forces of Mother Nature. City government has been working hard to ensure that our city is prepared for the next big quake.

Since 1989, we have made progress. We have undertaken and completed a significant amount of work to seismically strengthen our health centers, our international airport and the water system that delivers drinking water from Hetch Hetchy. Next week we will break ground on the seismic retrofit of San Francisco General Hospital, which houses The City’s only trauma center. And the supervisors and I are collaborating to ensure that 75,000 vulnerable “soft-story” homes are protected from earthquake damage.

Looking ahead, there is more work to do. Our pressurized water firefighting system, which was built in response to the 1906 earthquake, is in need of repairs, and the Hall of Justice, which houses our public safety personnel, is also in need of retrofitting. We are working to strengthen these vital assets.

On this anniversary, I want to emphasize that preparedness is a shared responsibility. Government needs to do its part, but San Francisco residents also need to pitch in.

Emergency preparedness and planning should be a part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s buying a few extra canned goods and batteries or discussing a family emergency plan at the dinner table, there are simple steps you can take to be prepared.

The best way to protect yourself and your family during a major disaster is to take action now, prepare, and plan ahead. We offer resources like 72hours.org for you to learn more about steps you can take.

San Francisco has come a long way. I am proud of our achievements, but there is still much more we collectively need to do to prepare for the next big one. I encourage all San Franciscans to mark this anniversary by reinvigorating our commitment to emergency preparedness.

Gavin Newsom is the mayor of San Francisco

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