Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 7, 2012

Focus of annual Quakeville shifts to Cubberley

Disaster event to prepare residents for living in a Red Cross shelter

by Sue Dremann

As cameras pan across an American Red Cross shelter, rows and rows of cots contain weary, shell-shocked residents. This is the aftermath of yet another natural disaster, in which hundreds of people with uncertain futures cling to a few snatched-up belongings amid a sea of strangers.

On Sept. 22, that same scene will happen in Palo Alto at Cubberley Community Center, although with any luck it won't come on the heels of a real disaster. Instead, organizers of the annual Quakeville event said it will be a rehearsal for what certainly will become real when a major earthquake strikes.

In its third year, Quakeville will offer residents a chance to play out what life could be like after being evacuated to an American Red Cross of Silicon Valley shelter, organizers said.

In previous years Quakeville brought together city emergency workers, emergency volunteers and residents from Barron Park and surrounding neighborhoods at city parks. Amid the campout atmosphere, residents ate hot dogs with neighbors and kids got to sleep overnight in tents in the park.

The two past events also included a search-and-rescue drill and plenty of fake blood.

This year's event will have more of the same, but instead of tents, participants can stay overnight on cots. The event is open to anyone in the city willing to show up to be fed, splinted, bandaged or to otherwise just be present. It will also focus on animal care and ways to help seniors, organizers said.

Food will be provided, including dinner and breakfast.

Event co-chairs Lydia Kou and Annette Glanckopf said Quakeville 2012 could be an eye-opening experience, and they encourage residents to fill up the shelter to get a real sense of what it would be like when homes collapse.

Residents are encouraged to try out the cots, taste-test emergency rations and discover what the Red Cross would and wouldn't provide so they can better decide what to take along when disaster strikes. In a real emergency, there won't be time to grab more than a few items, Kou and Glanckopf said.

"Let's think about the Colorado fire, where there was a full-blown evacuation and people only had minutes to escape," said Kou, neighborhoods team leader for the city's Emergency Services Volunteer program.

Besides food, sponsor tables and information on disaster preparedness and supplies, Quakeville will need plenty of volunteers to role-play being injured, sick or dead.

Volunteer emergency workers will practice on the pretend victims through emergency drills, search-and-rescue scenarios and medical triage. (No one will get cut, but there could be quite a few bandages, organizers said.)

As in the past, Quakeville will have a surprise search-and-rescue incident for block-preparedness coordinators, radio and communications volunteers and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members, said Glanckopf, a member of the city's disaster-preparedness coalition Citizen Corps Council.

"There is a certain amount of chaos that is built into these kinds of situations," she said of the importance of Quakeville, which helps those in training adapt to the unexpected.

This year's event includes establishing an animal shelter of sorts. Participants are asked to bring a stuffed animal to be treated as if it were real for the drills, so people's real pets will not get stressed, Glanckopf said. City animal services and Red Cross volunteers will practice intake and care for stray animals and pets.

Ali Williams, Quakeville's public information officer, said seniors are another event focus. In a disaster, many seniors would not have transportation to a shelter, for example, she said.

Kou said the city must look at ways to help seniors, children and residents with functional needs.

"We are an aging population. How are they going to be served in a disaster? Who is going to take them? We have all these different generations to consider: seniors, people with medical conditions, people with babies and people with pets," she said.

Kou said as she checks off her lengthy list of preparations for Quakeville, she has at least one person in mind to help with those fake bruises, lacerations and burns.

"I will ask my hairdresser to do makeup," she said.

Registration for Quakeville can be done at www.paneighborhoods.org/ep. For more information, people can contact Lydia Kou at 650-996-0028 or lkou@apr.com.

The event is sponsored by the City of Palo Alto, the city's Office of Emergency Services, the American Red Cross, City of Palo Alto Animal Services, Avenidas, and the Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Mark, a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I think it's a wonderful idea Palo Alto residents will have an opportunity to experience a disaster shelter before a real emergency. For children, the first time in a shelter can be a terrifying experience - it is noisy, cramped, unfamiliar and, well, you're esentially breathing on strangers. Getting a chance to experience before hand what it is like will help relieve some of the children's (and parents) anxiety and hopefully encourage Palo Alto residents to consider their personal preparedness.


Posted by What-A-Joke, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2012 at 7:33 am

What a massive waste of time. The idea that hundreds, or thousands, of homes here in Palo Alto are going to collapse is nuts. We went through a 7.9M (Magnitude) earthquake in '89, and how many homes collapsed?

This model suggests that homes are going to collapse all over the bay area, so that there would be no place for people to go. Well, if that is the case, then it stands to reason that most of the region's infrastructure would also collapse. Electricity, gasoline, food and virtually all social services. How long do the unqualified PAN "leaders" believe that they are going to operate this "shelter" without fundamentals--like water and food?

If there were ever such a catastrophe--people would flee to places where the social network was still functioning.

The people pushing this idea have no realistic exposure to real-world disasters, or even common sense.


Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Sep 10, 2012 at 8:26 am

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate thread:

Posted by Annette, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Kudos to Sue Dremann for bringing Quakeville 2012 to life with her wonderful writing. It is shaping up to be a wonderful event.

I want to give credit where credit is due. I am not the co-chair of Quakeville...It is Lydia Kou who is the guiding light and visionary for the effort. I am just a member of the planning team.

I invite you to join us - watch experience and learn what life might be like after a disaster.


Posted by george, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm

What a Joke. The Loma Prieta earthquake was a 6.9, not a 7.9 magnitude quake. The epicenter was more that 80 miles away but severely damaged the Bay Bridge and Oakland viaduct with people killed and injured.

No one can predict the magnitude of the next quake, the amount and severity of the damage, and how many structures ruined or destroyed. We were lucky the Marina district (SF) fire was a minor one and could be contained by available resources. What if gas lines ruptured all over the Peninsula, and we had a San Bruno explosion and disaster multiplied many times?

Every prudent person has to prepare for at least a 7 day period without electricity, water, and perhaps shelter. Quakeville is meant to be a wake-up call. First responders will be in short supply; so we'll be mostly on our own or perhaps with some help from neighbors. Leaving the area may not be an option because of blocked roadways - and even close to empty gas tanks - not to mention fear of looting.


Posted by Jim , a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

George - right on. I think the value of these type of exercises is that they show people that you do NOT want to end up in a shelter if you can at all help it. That means preparation not only with earthquake supplies so you can stay self sufficient, but also with making sure your home is properly braced for an earthquake. Things like anchoring a home's foundation and hardening walls are all affordable steps homeowners can take to mitigate the loss of a home during a large earthquake. The USGS has some fantastic material on how homeowners can prepare.

The nefarious thing with earthquakes and other disasters is that when we go without them for a long time we get complacent. As a result emergency services and disaster preparation get overlooked...


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