When the big one hits, first thing’s first, trust thy neighbor.
That was the central theme behind Saturday’s Big Rumble Resource Fairs being held in the Sunset, Bayview, Marina, and Mission to prepare residents for the next earthquake. That, and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.
“The big thing we’re trying to get across,” said Maggie Weilland, the site coordinator for the Mission District resource fair, “is to get people to rely on each other.”
With the help of a tented jumper for children, free carne asada, rice and beans, and entertainment from local groups, the city hoped to attract nearby residents to learn about disaster preparedness and get to know one another.
Latinos, who represent a large part of the Mission, were targeted, said Arturo Carrillo, site captain for the resource fair. Carrillo was in his car when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit at 5:04 p.m. on Oct. 17, 1989.
“It felt like someone was pushing down on the car,” he said. He also recalled seeing nearby buildings shake while the 280 freeway swayed side to side.
Maribel Leiva, director of operations for the Latino Commission, a non-profit organization that works with Latinos who suffer from substance abuse, was at her son’s soccer game when she felt the earth move.
Supervisor David Campos said he was in line at the cafeteria at Stanford when he felt the earthquake. “It’s important for me that the event happens in the Mission,” said Campos, “and that we educate.”
On site were city entities like the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission informing people about best practices for water storage.
“People should have a three-day supply,” said Benito Capuyan, who works for the commission. He pointed to the new emergency drinking water hydrants throughout the city, which can be identified by a painted blue water drop. There are three in the Mission at 23rd and Treat streets, 20th and Dolores streets, and 16th and Bryant streets.
The commission is in the middle of an infrastructure project to improve the more than 100 year-old water system currently in place. They are also retrofitting the Sunset reservoir that provides the city with 60 percent of its water.
Representatives from the city’s Department of Emergency Management were also on site to provide community members with resources on how to survive should they have no access to services for 72 hours.
In their efforts to prepare, they also have a department of operations center for each of the city’s departments to help them respond efficiently to disaster situations.
“We help plan to mitigate what might happen,” said Frank Davies, a consultant with the Department of Emergency Management, who wishes there were more of these events.
“They’re better off,” said Davies, referring to the people at the fair who now have more information in their hands than those who didn’t attend.
Mission resident Ruby Rieke was driving down Harrison Street when she heard the music from the event and stopped. She was looking forward to the animal preparedness workshop to learn how to protect her cocker spaniel Cyrus.
“It’s always nice to have something local,” she added, content about the resource fair.
As for disaster preparedness, it’s about communication at all levels: among city departments, among neighbors and between the city and people.
“It all starts here,” said Davies, as he pointed to the ground.