Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year, San Francisco!


Isn’t the New Year inspiring? Who doesn’t love a chance to start fresh and really focus on what you want to accomplish—with a whopping 365 days to do so. We have a hunch that preparedness may not be number one on most New Year’s resolutions lists, but in its most boiled down state, preparedness is easier than most think.  And by taking stock of your preparedness, you are doing something now, before an emergency, that will make a big difference after.

More Prepared

So, here are a few simple ideas to help jump start meeting a preparedness New Year’s resolution:

  • A little foresight can go a long way—make a plan now, so you know how to find and get in touch with your people when something happens. The same connections that are important in everyday life—with friends, family, neighbors, and communities—are even more crucial in a crisis.

Plan Basics

  • Print and fill out the

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The San Francisco 2014 Hazard Mitigation Plan

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires states, Indian tribes, and local governments to develop hazard mitigation plans as a condition for receiving pre- and post-disaster mitigation grant funding, which is why San Francisco recently updated its Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) to ensure we are positioned to receive these funds, should we need them.

San Francisco’s 2014 HMP was approved by FEMA early last month. The plan also has been adopted by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors.

What goes into a Hazard Mitigation Plan?

In order for a city or county to receive federal mitigation funds, its hazard mitigation plan must profile the natural hazards that impact the area, and must select strategies for mitigating those hazards. San Francisco’s 2014 HMP also covers human-caused hazards, which include hazardous materials, energy shortages, terrorist events, and cyberterrorism. In addition, the 2014 HMP covers climate change (sea level rise, temperature rise, and precipitation changes).

What Makes San Francisco’s HMP Special?

What makes San Francisco’s 2014 HMP unique is the addition of climate change and how to mitigate its affects. Additional elements that made the plan (and its development) stand out include:

  • San Francisco’s 2014 HMP assesses risks to the City from natural and human-caused hazards, and to provide mitigation strategies for reducing the impact of those risks.
  • The 2014 HMP represents the City’s commitment to take action to help reduce risk and create a safer, more resilient San Francisco. The plan also serves as a guide for City leaders as they commit resources to reduce the effects of hazards on our community.
  • The coordinated preparation of the 2014 HMP: The plan was developed in cooperation with representatives from 20 City departments.
  • San Francisco’s 2014 HMP has been adopted by Mayor Ed Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and was approved by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on November 4, 2014. The 2014 HMP remains effective for five years.
  • FEMA approval of local hazard mitigation plans is a prerequisite to receive federal disaster funding such as pre- and post-disaster hazard mitigation grants, and flood mitigation grants. Local hazard mitigation plans must be revised and re-approved by FEMA every five years to continue to be eligible for this federal funding. The 2014 HMP updates and replaces the HMP approved by FEMA in 2009.
  • The San Francisco 2014 HMP Planning Team will continue to meet over the next five years to monitor implementation of the HMP, and will seek funding to begin work on hazard mitigation strategies selected as part of the 2014 plan.

Who Developed the San Francisco HMP?

San Francisco’s  HMP development was led by DEM’s Lead Planner, Amy Ramirez, and Edie Schaffer, Emergency Planner.

“For me, the best thing about working on this plan was getting to meet and work with city representatives that I had not met before,  ” said Edie Schaffer.  “Everyone on our HMP Planning Team stepped up, and shared both their time and expertise; we could not have done this without them. The HMP Planning Team will keep working together over the next five years to implement the plan.”

DEM will begin the process of updating this version of the HMP in 2017. As Edie said, “We worked so hard on the plan. It’s not something that will sit on the shelf; we are using the plan to seek funding to implement the mitigation strategies chosen by the Planning Team.”

The 2014 HMP Development Team:

  • Alicia Johnson (DEM): Public and stakeholder outreach planning and implementation
  • Robert Stengel (DEM): New hazard profiles; plan review
  • Francis Zamora (DEM): Public information and outreach; HMP web site design and maintenance
  • Brian Strong (Capital Planning Program): CCSF assets and planning projects; HAZUS study of critical CCSF facilities
  • Neil Friedman (Department of Building Inspection (DBI)): CCSF building inventory; DBI mitigation projects; UMBs
  • Cal Broomhead (Department of Environment (DOE)): Hazard assessment; DOE capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Calla Ostrander (DOE) Hazard assessment, DOE capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Naveena Bobba (Department of Public Health (DPH)): Hazard assessment, DPH capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Teri Dowling (DPH): Hazard assessment; DPH capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Cynthia Chono (Department of Public Works (DPW)): Hazard assessment, DPW capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Micah Hilt (Earthquake Safety Implementation Program (ESIP)): ESIP capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Patrick Otellini (ESIP): ESIP capabilities
  • Carla Johnson (Mayor’s Office of Disability): Input and guidance on people with disabilities and access and functional needs
  • Dave Sullivan (Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC)): Hazard assessment, NCRIC capabilities, and mitigation projects
  • Nick Majeski (Office of City Administrator, General Services Agency (GSA)): GSA capabilities
  • Matt Hansen (Office of the City Administrator, Risk Management Program): Asset lists, CCSF Floodplain Administrator delegatee, flood-related mitigation projects
  • Leo Levenson (Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure): Land use and development
  • Scott Edmondson (Planning Department): Land use and development, climate change
  • Lily Langlois (Planning Department): Planning capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Teresa Ojeda (Planning Department): GIS, land use and development
  • Sidonie Sansom (Port of San Francisco): Port assets, capabilities, and mitigation projects
  • John Updike (Real Estate Division):CCSF assets
  • Karen Mauney-Brodek (Recreation and Parks Department (RPD)): RPD capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Angelica Quicksey (RPD): Hazard assessment, RPD capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Jeff Airth (San Francisco International Airport (SFO)): SFO capabilities and mitigation projects
  • Toshia Marshall (SFO): SFO assets, capabilities, and mitigation projects
  • Assistant Deputy Chief Kyle Merkins (San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD)): SFFD capabilities and mitigation projects, fire-related hazards
  • Scarlett Lam (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)):Hazard assessment, SFMTA assets and capabilities
  • Mary Ellen Carroll (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)): SFPUC assets and mitigation projects
  • Joshua Keene (SFPUC): SFPUC assets
  • Brad Wilson (SFPUC): SFPUC assets, capabilities, and mitigation projects
  • Bob Beck (Treasure Island Development Agency (TIDA)): TIDA assets, capabilities, and mitigation projects
  • Peter Summerville (TIDA): TIDA assets, capabilities, and mitigation projects

Special thanks to SFPUC David Behar, Climate Program Director, SFPUC Chair, CCSF Sea Level Rise Committee

Special Note:

Amy Ramirez and Edie Schaffer presented at the 2014 International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Annual Conference last November regarding local hazard mitigation planning. They brought handouts for 25 people — more than 200 attended.  A goal of San Francisco’s 2014 HMP development team is to share their most successful strategies in development the HMP, and to make this information available so that other local jurisdictions can develop their own HMPs  “in-house.”

For inquiries about the San Francisco 2014 HMP and the process to develop it, please email and

Pictured Left to Right, Amy Ramirez and Edie Schaffer working on the 2014 HMP.

Pictured Left to Right, Amy Ramirez and Edie Schaffer working on the 2014 HMP.



Holiday Talks

We asked members of our San Francisco Emergency Management team to practice what they preach: Talk to your family and friends about preparedness.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday they did.  Here is one story:

My oldest sister lives overseas with her husband and two daughters.  Understandably they get homesick during this time of year.  On Facebook, she posted about all things she misses about home and reminded me about a time when I thought I was too cool to smile in those family photos around the dinner table or in front of the Christmas tree.

Today when I look back at those photos I smile.  Yes, seeing that scowling young punk is funny but mostly I remember the good times shared with family and friends.  Decorating the tree after Thanksgiving, Simbang Gabi (a Filipino Christmas Eve all-nighter), and the big New Year’s Eve Party at my parent’s house are just some the traditions we shared together.

Family discussing emergency preparedness

Start of a tradition – Our first  #holidaytalk Thanksgiving ’13.  The dogs need emergency supplies too!

Last year, we started a new tradition.  On Thanksgiving, after we stuffed ourselves we sat around the table and reviewed our family emergency plans and talked about our emergency supplies.  Why not?  Most of the people that I would want to hear from or would want to hear from me in an emergency were all in the same room.  My parents chose the neighborhood church as their emergency meeting spot, my other sister and her husband realized they needed supplies for the dogs, and my wife and I decided my brother-in-law in Ohio would be our out-of-area contact.

This year we continued the tradition and all realized that some of the food in our emergency stash was expired (whoops!).  But that’s okay.  That’s why we do it, so we can take care people we love.  We even sent our emergency plans to my sister overseas so she could join in.

Our holiday talks take about thirty minutes and then it’s back to other long time traditions… like that second serving of food!

Our team created Vines (6 second videos) of their holiday talks. Thinking about doing the same with your family or friends?  Visit for conversation ideas.  Want to share your experience? Use  #holidaytalks and tag us (@SF72org on Twitter and Instagram and @SFDEM on Facebook).

Winter is Here: Now What?

As rain continues throughout the rest of today into tomorrow, it’s looking like the worst is behind us. So, now what?

First: many (if not most) of us did something to get ready for this storm—whether it was making sure you have extra batteries and a flashlight, or talking about how you’re going to manage your kid’s school being closed— you put your emergency preparedness knowledge into practice. And for this, you all get a huge thumbs up from your friends at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

Second: While you can feel good about all you did to prepare for this storm, think about a few what ifs (e.g., extended grocery store closure, or power outage) and what can you do now that would make life easier if that were to occur and visit for more ideas.

Third: How’s your neighborhood doing? Is your power out? Do you know any neighbors who may need extra help? If so, we encourage you to check on them.

Fourth: Share what you did to get prepared for #hellastorm with your friends, and ask them what they did get ready (we’d love to hear about this too, so comment here or share your preparedness wins with us on @SF72org).

In closing: Guess what San Francisco? You’re more prepared than you think…and you’re more prepared today than you were yesterday!

Lights Out – Power Outages

So the lights are out. What do you do? Get a glass of wine and light some candles? Well not exactly.

First, let PG&E know that the power is out by calling 1-800-PGE-5000.  Next, unplug and turnoff appliances and leave one light on so that you know when the power comes back.  Avoid using candles – they are fire hazards especially in San Francisco. Don’t use a gas stove for heating your home or operate generators indoors. When you come to traffic signal that is not working treat it like a four-way stop. Lastly, be conservative about how you open you fridge in order to maintain its temperature and avoid eating food that has been not refrigerated for long periods of time.

The wine still a great idea though (if you are over 21).

Winter is Coming

Winter-Is-ComingNo, we’re not expecting “White Walkers” to emerge from the fog but heavy rain and high winds are headed our way on Wednesday.  While the Stark family motto of warning and caution, “Winter is Coming”, might be a little dramatic, we should remember this kind of weather can cause landslides or flooding.

Here are some simple tips to safe, dry, and make you the Jon Snow of your neighborhood:

  • Sweep up leaves and litter from their sidewalks and gutters and place them in the appropriate bins.  This can help keep storm drains from getting clogged.
  • Anywhere it rains it can flood especially if you live in a low lying area. Construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home or building.
  • If water has entered a garage or basement, do not walk through it. You can’t always see or smell what’s in the water and it could be harmful to you.
  • Walking through moving water is dangerous. Six inches of moving water can make you fall.  If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.  Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Stay clear of water that is in contact with downed power lines.
  • Keep children from playing around high water, storm drains, or any flooded areas.
  • Keep children from playing around high water, storm drains, or any flooded areas.
  • Secure patio furniture to prevent potential projectile damage in high wind conditions.
  • Do what you can safely to keep drains and downspouts clear of leaves, branches, etc. that could block water flow and lead to localized flooding.
  • Cover windows with heavy-duty plastic, or temporary wood coverings to minimize risks from flying tree branches in high-wind conditions.

Flooding can also cause headaches on roadways. The followingare important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles
  • Avoid driving through flooded roads. The depth of water is not always obvious and you could be stranded or trapped.
  • Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
  • Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Review your emergency supplies.  Do you have batteries for your flashlight just in case the power goes out?  Visit for more ideas.

To report rain related issued call 3-1-1. If you are in danger or have an emergency call 9-1-1.

For more information, call 3-1-1 or follow @sfpublicworks and @sf_emergency on Twitter.  You can also visit or  for additional road closure and other safety information.