Friday, April 16, 2010

San Francisco Prepares to Commemorate 104th Anniversary of 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire

 pic of Lotta's Fountain on Market Street

As San Francisco is preparing to commemorate the 104th anniversary of the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, the Mayor and emergency services are focussing on readying the city for the next big quake.

A programme of commemorative events has been rolled out along with city plans for seismic retrofitting, with an emphasis on the need for every San Franciscan to be able to cope personally with a major emergency.

At the heart of the weekend events will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Lotta's Fountain on Market Street at 5.12 am on Sunday morning. There will also be an annual repainting in gold of a fire hydrant in the Mission District that helped save the Mission from fire, a survivor dinner and breakfast, a film-showing of the disaster, and a tour of the city's emergency water supplies.

The 7.8 quake struck with devastating force at 5.12 am on April 18, killing 3,000 people, leaving at least a quarter of a million homeless and causing, in today's currency, $8 billion in damage.

'Recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Southern California are all too clear reminders that we must continue to prepare for the next major earthquake in our region,' said Mayor Gavin Newsom. 'We’ve made great progress in recent years, but we can never let up on our work to seismically reinforce our key facilities and infrastructure to withstand a major earthquake.'

In April 2008, scientists and engineers from various earthquake agencies including the USGS released a new report warning of a 99.7 per cent chance of a 6.7-plus quake in the next 30 years in the Greater Bay Area.

One of the top priorities is the upgrading of a high pressurize fire fighting water supply system, also known as the Auxiliary Water Supply System, which was built after the 1906 quake.

More than 40 repair and improvement projects are underway, part of plans that are expected to create 190,000 new construction-related jobs, said the Mayor and the President of the Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, in a press release. These include health centers and hospitals, libraries, culture centers, museums, including the new Academy of Sciences in the Golden Gate Park, terminals at San Francisco airport, and the drinking water system from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite.

In the past 20 years, 180 seismic projects have also been completed.

'We need to look ahead and ensure that our aging infrastructure, the backbone of our great City, is protected for our future generations,' said Supervisor Chiu. Despite the work that has already been done, 'we still have a long way to go in terms of seismic improvements and repair. Being able to respond quickly after an earthquake is critical to our survival and recovery as a city,' he said.

The Mayor and Supervisor Chiu had gathered earlier this week with Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Police Chief George Gascon, Executive Director of the Department of Emergency Management Vicki Hennessy and others to highlight emergency preparation.

'Emergency preparedness and planning should be a part of our everyday lives,' said Vicki Hennessy. 'This can be as easy as buying a few extra canned goods and batteries the next time you’re at the market or making a family emergency plan over dinner.'

They are asking people to check out the website to learn more about individual preparation.

The programme of events, which they hope will attract many members of the public, are as follows:

Public Tour of Auxiliary Water Supply System
April 17
Twin Peaks Reservoir@ Marview Way at Farview Ct FROM 9-11 am
Pump Station #2 @ Van Ness and McDowell Road from 1-3 pm

John’s Grill Annual Survivor Dinner
April 17, 2010 @ 4 pm John’s Grill
63 Ellis St.
Reservations suggested; call (415) 986-0069 for more information

104th Annual Wreath Laying and Commemoration
April 18, 2010 @ 5:11 am
Lotta’s Fountain, Market St. at the intersection of Kearny, Third and Geary

Golden Fire Hydrant Painting Ceremony
April 18, 2010 @ 5:40 – 6:00 am
20th and Church Streets

Lefty O’Douls Annual Survivor Breakfast
April 18, 2010 @ 6:00 am
333 Geary St. (at Powell)

Screening of the film “1906”
April 18, 2010 @ 10 am
Westin St. Francis Hotel
335 Powell St.
RSVP Required; call (333) 377-4453 for more information

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