Tag Archives: Berkeley earthquakes


Berkeley, Albany disaster prep day comes Oct. 18

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley’s annual disaster preparedness event is coming up next month with activities to teach residents how to handle kids and pets in an emergency, as well as general skills.

The 2014 event is scheduled for Oct. 18, from 9-11 a.m. It can be customized for any schedule, with exercises that take anywhere from 5 minutes to the whole two hours. It’s a self-directed exercise, which means you can perform the activities in your home or business, or with an organized neighborhood group. … Continue reading »

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Are you ready to help kids, pets when disaster strikes?

The Berkeley Emergency Prep Fair is aimed to help residents know what to do with pets and little ones in case of a disaster. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A brand new interactive fair is coming to Berkeley this weekend, aimed to help residents get prepared for disaster with a focus on children and pets.

The free event, at the North Berkeley BART station, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26. There will be food and music, kids’ activities, prizes and games, as well as first aid and CPR training, pet evacuation workshops, a blood drive and much more.

“It’s really geared toward the empowerment of individuals in our community,” said Gradiva Couzin, a Berkeley resident and CERT volunteer who has been helping organize the event. “Our goal is to help everyone recognize their own strengths, and what they can contribute and bring to disaster response.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley uses free dumpsters to boost disaster prep zeal

To increase community participation in disaster planning and public safety, neighborhoods that regularly collaborate in established city programs are eligible to reserve a dumpster like this with no fee. Photo: City of Berkeley
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The city of Berkeley has brought back its popular “free dumpster” program to turn a neighborhood desire for free garbage hauling into a passion for disaster preparedness activities.

To increase community participation in disaster planning and public safety, neighborhoods that regularly collaborate with the city’s emergency planning programs will be eligible to reserve a 16-cubic-yard dumpster without a fee. … Continue reading »

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3.2-magnitude earthquake, 4 aftershocks hit Berkeley

Five small earthquakes rattled Berkeley early Tuesday morning. Image: U.S. Geological Survey
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According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 3.2-magnitude earthquake jolted Berkeley awake at 1:07 a.m. It was followed by two smaller aftershocks in the area within 20 minutes, a third aftershock at 2:06 a.m., and another at 2:15 a.m.

Initial reports placed the epicenter of the first temblor in Tilden Regional Park near Seaview Trail and Vollmer Peak Road, with a quake depth of 4.5 miles.

Numerous Berkeley residents on Twitter said it woke them up. Said Seth Candin: “Whole building jumped and shook.” Added Robert Gordon: “Apartment definitely just shook!”

Some called it scary, and others described it as small, but many noted that they most certainly felt it. … Continue reading »


Berkeleyside: A vital news resource in emergencies

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Shortly after 2 p.m. on Friday last week, people all over Berkeley suddenly caught the sharp scent of smoke in the air. Many opened their front doors and stepped outside to see if, perhaps, something in their neighborhood was burning.

Then, many turned to Berkeleyside. Our email inbox and Twitter feed began buzzing: ‘Where’s the fire? What’s that smoke?” people asked.

Senior reporter Emilie Raguso was already on the phone to Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong when the questions began to land. Within minutes she had posted the answer on Twitter and Facebook. At 2:30 p.m we published the story: “Solano County smoke blankets Berkeley with smoke.” A change in wind direction was causing pungent smoke from a large grass fire near state Highway 12 in the Suisun City area to settle over the East Bay. Instantly, more than 1,600 people were there, reading the article, and huge numbers of others followed. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley feels 3.0 magnitude quake at 9:26 p.m. Sunday

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A 3.0 magnitude earthquake was felt by many in Berkeley at 9:26 p.m. tonight, Sunday Oct. 6. The quake was 7.4 kilometers deep and USGS put it 4 kilometers ENE of Berkeley.

The epicenter was in Tilden Park, east of South Park Drive, according to the map coordinates: 37.889°N 122.225°, which makes it 4 kilometers WNW of Orinda.

As soon as the sharp shudder was felt, people began sharing their experience of the quake on Twitter. There were reports coming in from downtown Berkeley, Albany, Orinda and many other spots in the surrounding area. … Continue reading »


Berkeley CERT volunteer academy takes off this weekend

At the end of the training, CERT volunteers who had met Friday, for the most part, as strangers, had bonded through the rigorous program.
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This weekend, about 30 Berkeley community members are slated to complete a 20-hour training provided by the city to give them the skills to organize on their own when disaster strikes and ensure they’re ready with crucial information when emergency crews arrive. The CERT academy, run by the Berkeley Fire Department, is a city program that brings free training to Berkeley residents, who can then go on to take more specialized classes and share information with their neighborhood groups. The weekend training program teaches participants how to set up a chain of command structure and organize into key groups with the aim of turning a chaotic situation into order. Training modules include fire suppression, search and rescue operations and disaster first aid. Earlier this year, Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso was invited to participate in the training course. Scroll down to see her photographs from the May event to see what some local residents will experience this weekend. Learn more about the Berkeley CERT program here.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley renews focus on retrofitting soft-story buildings

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Property owners, tenants, and city officials gathered Thursday to discuss a proposed ordinance that would require seismic retrofitting of more than 150 residential buildings with soft, weak or open-front conditions, also called soft-story buildings, which are highly at risk of collapsing in strong earthquakes.

But property owners argued at the meeting that “a host of roadblocks” discourages those who want to retrofit their soft-story buildings.

“It becomes very onerous to put your hand up and try to get a permit,” said Jon Vicars, vice president of Berkeley Property Owners Association. … Continue reading »

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Local amateur radio group to host field day June 22

Amateur radio operators with the Northern Alameda County Amateur Radio Emergency Services team received and recorded messages during an emergency drill earlier this year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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During a major disaster, vital communication lines can be destroyed or damaged when the city needs them most. A local amateur radio group serving hospitals, schools, and city governments in northern Alameda County then steps in to help get emergency messages across.

“If no one else can send it, we can send it,” said Bruce Carleton, emergency coordinator for Northern Alameda County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (NALCO).

The organization, operated by a team of more than 30 volunteers who meet monthly, will hold its annual field day Saturday, June 22, along with other amateur radio stations across the country. Under tents set up near the west entrance of the UC Berkeley campus — at the intersection of Center and Oxford streets — they will set up and test out their equipment, and community members will be able to ask questions and watch emergency action simulations. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley unites for earthquake safety

Two community members discuss radios and disaster preparedness during Berkeley's annual city-wide disaster preparedness drill, which took place Saturday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An estimated 2,000 people took part in a city-wide exercise Saturday to help community members prepare for “the big one.” About 35 neighborhood groups, along with local businesses, the Berkeley Unified School District and members of the Northern Alameda County Amateur Radio team, participated in the earthquake drill, which was organized by the Berkeley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a program of the Berkeley Fire Department.

Residents learned a range of skills, from how to locate and map gas and water shut-offs, to how to use a garden hose to put out a small fire. They listened to radio station 1610 AM for an emergency broadcast, and signed up to receive test messages from the Berkeley Emergency Notification System via phone and email. They located their two nearest fire stations, and called out-of-area contacts to practice what they might need to do should a major earthquake strike. Runners from community groups took messages to amateur radio operators who work with the city to help facilitate communication should traditional methods fail. Teams of firefighters drove assigned routes throughout the city to assess potential “damage” to determine the most pressing problems. Afterward, they visited neighborhood groups to speak with community members. … Continue reading »

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Join the Berkeley-wide emergency drill April 27

Participants in the city's CERT training practice their skills. Photo: Khin Chin/Berkeley Fire Department
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A Berkeley-wide disaster exercise is set to take place later this month, and the city is working hard to get as many people involved as possible.

Participation ranges from the exceedingly simple — just sign up to receive emergency text alerts about the drill — to the more involved, with local business and neighborhood groups planning a range of activities. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley targets underserved for disaster preparedness

Emergency kit
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Berkeley’s City Council Tuesday night debated how the city’s disaster preparedness program has been disproportionately adopted in the hill districts, and left vulnerable — and generally poorer — districts in the flats far behind in terms of both training and allocation of emergency caches.

A report from the Disaster & Fire Safety Commission (DFSC) featured a map showing the heavy concentration of emergency caches in Districts 5 and 6, and a thin scattering in Districts 3 and 4. The caches are containers of equipment awarded to communities who have demonstrated a minimum level of readiness, which includes completing a certain amount of emergency training. There are currently 79 caches in total in the city’s neighborhoods. … Continue reading »

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Preparing for the Big One: Berkeley neighbors do the drills

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Did you get a little more ready for the Big One on Saturday? Did you join in Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) across Berkeley in disaster preparedness exercises? The Vermont Avenue North Neighborhood Association did. Here they are in action, photographed by Nancy Rubin.

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