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Summary of Hearings on Earthquake Hazards
(5-10-06)

  • April 18, 2006: Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and Prediction, field hearing on "Earthquake Monitoring, Research, and Preparation"

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and Prediction
Field Hearing on "Earthquake Monitoring, Research, and Preparation"
April 18, 2006

Witnesses:
Harold Brooks, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
Lloyd Cluff, Director of Geosciences, Pacific Gas & Electric
Annemarie Conroy, Executive Director, Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, City and County of San Francisco
Jim Vannucchi, Captain, San Francisco Fire Department

On April 18, the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Senate Disaster Prevention and Prediction Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a field hearing in San Francisco on earthquake monitoring, research, and preparation. "Preparation [for earthquakes] is just as important as it should have been in Katrina,'' said Subcommittee Chair Jim DeMint (R-SC).

Witnesses testifying at the hearing represented a range of local emergency response organizations, including the American Red Cross, San Francisco's Office of Emergency Services, and the San Francisco Fire Department. Harold Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, described the new "Prepare Bay Area" campaign, a public-private partnership funded by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). The goal of the program is to have one out of every four Bay Area citizens make a family disaster plan, build a disaster supplies kit, and get trained in CPR, first aid, and/or disaster preparedness. According to Brooks' written testimony, "The logic behind that number is, we want one person in each household to be able to save the lives of their loved ones, neighbors and others."

Despite efforts to prepare private citizens, the Bay Area does not currently have an official emergency response plan in place. According to ABC7 News, witness Annemarie Conroy, Executive Director of Office of Emergency Services, told senators that despite previous goals to have a plan in place by the first of this year, the Bay Area earthquake plan still isn't ready. She would not comment on when the plan would be completed.

According to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not yet developed a federal plan either. "They [DHS] predicted an earthquake in San Francisco and they don't have a plan," she said. She also criticized President Bush for reducing the effectiveness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by placing it under the jurisdiction of DHS. "I really do think we ought to make FEMA an independent agency and take it out of Homeland Security," she said. "I just feel it has lost its way… The bottom line is that if there was a 1906 earthquake today, Californians could not count on the federal government."

For witness testimony, click here. For Senator Boxer's remarks, click here.

-JAF

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle; ABC7/KGO-TV/DT; press release for Senator Boxer; hearing testimony.

Contributed by Jenny Fisher, 2006 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Last updated on May 10, 2006.


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