Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tsunami Preparedness in San Francisco

This week marks national Tsunami Preparedness Week and DEM wants San Francisco to know what to do in the event of tsunami hitting our shorelines.

Tsunamis are NOT like normal waves at the beach. When they approach land they are like a surge or fast flood. Earthquakes are nature’s warning for a possible tsunami, so if you are by the coast and the earth moves, first: drop, cover, and hold on; second: when the shaking stops, get to high ground; and third: stay away from the coast.




Sometimes it takes many hours for the first waves of a tsunami to reach the shoreline, and often times the first waves (or surges) are not the highest or most powerful.  Whether we are under a tsunami advisory, watch, or warning it is imperative that anyone in coastal areas listen to DEM’s instructions.  Our primary methods of issuing the notification are AlertSF and @sf_emergency on Twitter. Tuning into the news on radio (such as KCBS 740 AM or 106.9 FM) and TV also is a good way to get information about the tsunami.

What keep in mind when it comes to tsunamis:

Know the warning signs:

  • A strong earthquake
  • A sudden rise or fall of the ocean tide
  • A loud, roaring sound (like an airplane or a train) coming from the ocean

Take action:

  • Move inland to higher ground, or into a tall building immediately and stay there
  • Stay away from the beach until officials advise it is safe to return
  • Follow instructions from local officials

Spread the word:

  • Once you have taken action tell family, friends, and co-workers to do the same (social media is a great way to spread the word)

To close out Tsunami Preparedness Week, we hope you will join us for the first ever San Francisco Tsunami Walk Saturday, March 30th at 10:00 am.  Meet us at the intersection of The Great Highway and Lincoln Way.  As we would during an actual tsunami evacuation, we’ll walk inland and away from the beach. The short walk ends at Francis Scott Key Elementary School, which is the neighborhood’s Tsunami Evacuation Assembly Area. So, sign up here or just show up at 10:00 AM!

The Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: Two Years Later

Photo from the Associated Press: Relatives of of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami victims offer chrysanthemums during the national memorial service to commemorate the second anniversary of the disaster on March 11 in Tokyo.

Photo from the Associated Press: Relatives of of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami victims offer chrysanthemums during the national memorial service to commemorate the second anniversary of the disaster on March 11 in Tokyo.

Two years ago today the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit Japan, and the fifth most powerful earthquake in the world since modern record-keeping began in 1900 occurred. The earthquake triggered a powerful tsunami, which reached the California coast.

The tsunami resulted in a Tsunami Warning for San Francisco, and in response, the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) partially activated our city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  Two years ago the EOC was buzzing with teams representing a variety of response agencies and organizations as we worked together to prepare for the waves reaching the shore.  One activity of primary importance was making sure those who live and work in San Francisco knew about the tsunami warning and what to do.

DEM used every tool in its tool chest to inform the public of the tsunami warning.  These tools included social media (@sf_emergency and DEM’s Facebook page); traditional media with DEM Deputy Director Rob Dudgeon giving many interviews with the press, which aired on local news stations frequently through the day; and, we issued warnings and alerts on our text and email notification system, AlertSF.

DEM urges anyone who lives and works in San Francisco and who has not yet registered for AlertSF, to commemorate this second anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, which posed an incontrovertible risk to San Francisco, by registering.  This system is the most reliable of our tools as we cannot guarantee social networks won’t be overloaded and when/if the press will report through radio and television networks.

As we look back two years ago today, we offer a DEM Blog from the archives commemorating the first year anniversary. As time always passes, for us at DEM the sentiment does not.


By Anne Kronenberg, Executive Director, Department of Emergency Management

On the East Coast it was a super storm, in the heart of Texas it was a gathering of elite athletes, and thousands of miles away it was lessons learned from years of conflict.   As the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management (DEM) I have the honor of working with talented and dedicated individuals responsible for managing every day and not so every day emergencies.   One of the most important things we can do to become a more resilient San Francisco is to learn from the experiences of others.

Emergency Managers Coming Together to Exchange Ideas and Learn from Each Other

Last month, San Francisco hosted the Big City Emergency Managers (BCEM) Conference. This bi-annual conference brings together emergency managers from big cities throughout the nation.  Over the course of three days emergency managers from New York, New…

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