After the Napa Quake – San Francisco CRO Patrick Otellini on Regional Resilience Collaboration

A dispatch from San Francisco Chief Resilience Officer Patrick Otellini

At 3:30AM on August 24th, I woke up to heavy shaking. We had just experienced the largest earthquake to hit the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. The 6.0 magnitude earthquake was located 3.7 miles northwest of American Canyon near the West Napa Fault.

After making sure my family was safe, I did a quick scan to see if our home had experienced any damage. My phone began to ring and I started getting updates right away from our city’s internal notification system. We were very lucky; the City of San Francisco experienced no damage because the epicenter was about 50 miles away, but our City staff did a fantastic job of quickly mobilizing and inspecting our own buildings and making sure that all city services were up and running. We soon got word that the cities of Napa and Vallejo had experienced significant damage.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, Director of Emergency Management Anne Kronenberg and myself went to meet Napa Mayor Jill Techel and her senior staff to tour the damage. We visited the downtown area, as well as the mobile home park that had caught fire and where several mobile homes had fallen off their supports.

Napa Fire Chief John Callanan, SF Chief Resilience Officer Patrick Otellini, SF City Administrator Naomi Kelly and SF Department of Emergency Management Director Anne Kronenberg

Both Mayor Lee and Mayor Techel sent a very important message to the media —  “We are still open for business!” This type of messaging is essential and critical to kick starting the recovery process. The Bay Area economy relies heavily on tourism, and when people start to cancel their trips and plans to visit, it exacerbates the economic impact on the local economy and the small businesses that make up our communities

Seeing the façade debris on the streets and sidewalks reminded us that if this earthquake has occurred in the middle of the day as opposed to 3:20 in the morning, the injury and fatality rate would look much different.

The City of San Francisco is continuing to provide support in whatever way we can to these impacted communities. It has been an illustrative experience as we continue to think about regional learning and collaboration as we look at the threats to each of our cities.

Head Photo, Franco Folini, Flickr, Remixed by 100RC