Friday, September 16, 2005

New York? Check. New Orleans? Check. San Francisco? Ummm....

FEMA managers concluded at an August, 2001 training session, that Americans should beware above all others:
  • a terrorist attack on New York City,
  • a hurricane in New Orleans, and
  • an earthquake near San Francisco.
Four years later, it's two down, one to go.

The New Republic continues:
San Franciscans were probably the least surprised of anyone to show up on FEMA's list. Their city has always been a disaster-prone place. Just east of the city lies a patchwork of improvised levees, guarding the country's highest urban flood risk, the San Joaquin River delta. Almost every summer, the winds spread wildfires across hillsides baked dry by long, sunny days. Tectonic faults run the length of California, holding the Bay Area, from the office parks of Silicon Valley to the ranches and mansions of Marin, between seismic parentheses.

But it would be wrong to dismiss FEMA's prediction as just the latest warning for a region that gets plenty of them. As furious recriminations pour out of New Orleans, it is too easy to imagine the Bay Area facing a similar fate. California's well-tested first responders may be better prepared than their Louisiana colleagues. But California developers are racing to build up similarly high-risk land; cash-strapped city and state officials are making similar gambles that they can put off investing in preventive engineering for more immediate, or more popular, concerns; and, in the event of a catastrophe, the region's poor will bear a similarly disproportionate share of the pain, just as in New Orleans.
Despite cycles of interest in disaster-planning and, at times, great progress, San Francisco will be unprepared if an earthquake makes FEMA's forecasting record three-for-three anytime soon.

Full article..

No comments: