Is Palo Alto ready for disaster?

City services remain vulnerable even as officials plan for a catastrophe

What if it's 5 p.m. and a 9.0-magnitude earthquake has just hit on the Hayward fault?

Palo Alto children are trapped in a day care center; fires have broken out at Stanford Research Park. Falling bricks have injured dozens on downtown Palo Alto streets. On roads and overpasses, cars have collided. Everyone is calling 911, jamming the city's dispatch center. Cell phones don't work.

But what if only 10 police officers and 29 firefighters -- the city's usual personnel levels -- were on duty to handle the crises unfolding for Palo Alto's daytime population of 120,000 people?

And what if only 40 electric-utilities workers and 30 gas-and-water employees were on hand to fix downed power and water systems throughout town?

The numbers aren't theoretical. These manpower capabilities were spelled out in spare terms in a 2007 city report.

"The city isn't going to be able to do everything or be everywhere in a disaster. ... We don't have the resources. No city will," Kelly Morariu, assistant to the city manager, said.

Police and City Council members agree, although some say Palo Alto is better prepared than other Bay Area communities.

"By comparison to other cities, Palo Alto is an 8. To where we should be, we're probably a 3. It means all of us are under-prepared," Mayor Patrick Burt concedes.

City officials and community groups are trying to close the preparedness gap. The Palo Alto City Council chose disaster preparedness as one of five city priorities for 2010. Every department is developing and upgrading its emergency plans.

Palo Alto has in fact been taking steps to address disaster readiness for the last 20 years, retrofitting some of its buildings in the 1980s and 1990s and taking on disaster-preparedness as a city priority in 2007 and 2008.

Former Mayor Judy Kleinberg convened a Citizen Corps Council, composed of local agencies and organizations, in 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The group eventually disbanded and was replaced by a Mayor's Red Ribbon Task Force, instituted by Kleinberg in 2005 to create a work plan. A new Citizen Corps Council has since emerged and is working with the city today.

Since 2001, Palo Alto has developed a terrorism-response plan; adopted a 2006 county-wide pandemic-influenza preparedness and response plan; developed a 2007 city-wide emergency operations plan; and adopted a 2009 foothills fire-management plan.

The city has come a long way since 2005, when nearly all of the city's decision makers, including the city manager and fire chief, were on vacation at the same time during a New Year's Eve winter storm. San Francisquito Creek was on the verge of flooding, Kleinberg recalled.

As she stood on the creek's banks watching the waters rise, Menlo Park emergency crews and utility trucks were assembled on the other side of the creek, but there was no emergency personnel on the Palo Alto side.

"I'll never forget seeing this physical divide," she said.

Nearly a decade after she first began looking into the city's readiness, Kleinberg said she still ponders the question: Is Palo Alto prepared?


Kenneth Dueker, the city's coordinator of Homeland Security and public outreach, takes Palo Alto's situation seriously. One of his top priorities is ensuring that citizens prepare themselves to cope during the time when police, fire and other personnel are diverted to major crises such as fires, collapsed overpasses or buildings, and trapped people.

He teaches radio-communication classes and trains residents through the Palo Alto Neighborhoods Block Preparedness Coordinator program, designed to organize and assess neighborhoods in disasters.

"People have this vague sense that we have 1,000 cops in Palo Alto. Odds of getting a police car or fire truck in a disaster, even with 10 times the staffing, are slim. We won't have enough. We have 30 square miles to cover," he said.

It takes 15 to 18 firefighters to respond safely to a structure fire such as a single-family home engulfed in flames. If there are just two fires or two significant search-and-rescue situations, all 29 firefighters would be occupied, he said.

Firefighters won't be able to respond to small fires or conduct searches for one or two missing people. Meanwhile, police won't be available to respond to property crimes, non-injury accidents or other disturbances, according to the 2007 city report.

At city intersections where traffic signals are down, drivers will be on their own: Officers will not be on hand to direct traffic. They'll be too busy handling life-threatening situations, managing crowds and evacuations and assisting at schools, the report indicated.

Utilities workers similarly will be stretched thin. If the city's electrical system were knocked out and the water supply shut down, only 40 electric-utility workers would be on duty to get the power up again. They first would have to contend with dangling live wires throughout the city that could cause electrocutions and fires after power is restored.

Only 30 gas, water and wastewater personnel would be on hand to check on and repair 9,311 natural-gas service lines and 207 miles of city gas mains, according to the city.

Meanwhile, there are just nine building inspectors to conduct safety assessments and inspections in a town of 27,000 homes and 8,000 businesses.

One solution Dueker would like to see is more affordable housing for firefighters and police.

In a disaster, under the California Civil Defense Act, all government employees are classified as disaster state workers. They are supposed to report to work. But if they cannot get to the city they work for they are to report to their city of residence, he said.

"If you live in Tracy and all of the bridges fall down, you're not going to get to Palo Alto to report to your job," he said.

"It's really good news for those communities. They're going to get all of our cops who are trained and paid for by Palo Alto," he said.

Police and interim Fire Chief Dennis Burns said he is less concerned about staffing deficits caused by personnel living outside the area -- he believes the city will manage. What is concerning is the finding of a Red Cross report that only about 5 percent of Bay Area residents are prepared with basic necessities, such as food, water, radio and other supplies, he said.

"In a real emergency, something catastrophic, emergency medical services resources will be spread thin. In a real catastrophe, police and fire aren't going to be there. People should plan not for three days (of surviving on their own) but for two weeks," he said.

Dueker and Burns emphasized the critical need to train citizens at a June meeting of the city's Policy and Services Committee.

"If we fail to engage with the community's neighborhoods we will fail in everything we do," Dueker said.

The city is not without its trained residents, however. Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activities (PANDA) volunteers are skilled in light search and rescue, first aid and radio communications.

And Palo Alto is not tackling emergency preparedness alone. The city also is working closely with Menlo Park and East Palo Alto and regionally with Santa Clara County to address cooperative manpower and communications issues.

The city-sponsored Citizen Corps Council -- composed of school, hospital, city department heads, neighborhood representatives, emergency organizations and Stanford Research Park personnel -- is working to identify and develop a community emergency plan and a community disaster network that could work cooperatively, Burns said.


When it comes to the city's communications system, one of the scariest scenarios in Dueker's view -- and played out to some extent during the Feb. 17 plane crash that knocked out power to Palo Alto -- would be the loss of the dispatch and emergency-operations centers, located in City Hall.

Neither is adequately retrofitted to remain operational in a major quake, according to the city.

The Civic Center Tower was retrofitted in the 1980s, and the police department and the emergency-operations center were retrofitted between 1992 and 1994. They should remain standing in a large-magnitude quake. But the dispatch center and emergency-operations center facilities might not remain operational, according to Glenn Roberts, public works director.

Neither facility complies with the state Standards of Essential-Services Facilities Act, which requires pipes, lights, data systems and water to be secured, he said.

Suzan Minshall, emergency services coordinator, said the emergency-operations center's telephone and Internet service didn't work during February's power outage.

"So many people called the public-information line that it was jammed," she said.

"We were immediately faced with a communications issue -- how to get the message out. It was real challenging. We tried to get info out to PANDA and Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) groups to find out if electricity was out for dependent neighbors," she said.

Residential block coordinators set up a radio network in the operations center during the incident and communicated with block coordinators in neighborhoods, who were able to check on elderly and disabled residents to quell confusion and ensure that home medical equipment wasn't compromised by the outage, she said.

"The biggest gap in technology and communications is when we lose power or the telephone system. To solve that would be a bona fide accomplishment," Dueker said.

Another problem is what Dueker and Burns call "interoperability," or the ability of various agencies and municipalities to communicate with one another.

Challenges include having a seamless communications system that connects city to city, city to county and city to neighborhoods, as well as developing agreed-upon procedures and protocol, Dueker said.

Enter Palo Alto's new Mobile Emergency Operations Center, a motor-home-sized communications center that solves several weaknesses in local emergency operations, Dueker said.

Its state-of-the-art technology surpasses the 1960s and 1970s systems currently in the emergency-operations center at City Hall. It isn't dependent on electricity; a generator keeps the system functioning and can be refueled regularly. It also won't collapse in an earthquake, he said.

The center can be driven anywhere. It functions as a community-wide disaster network that can connect with schools, the Red Cross, neighboring cities and even county, state and federal responders, he said.

"People say we don't invest in infrastructure. This is infrastructure," Dueker said, pointing to the 28 radio systems, multiple laptop ports, white boards and surveillance cameras that can assess traffic and emergency issues up to one-eighth of a mile.

The mobile center can accommodate up to 16 personnel inside and 25 or more around the perimeter and includes a 911-dispatch center for five operators.

Emergency personnel and police train in the mobile center continually, since the vehicle can be used for day-to-day operations such as major sports events and festivals, he said. The center was used at the opening football game at Stanford Stadium on Sept. 4 to coordinate traffic and crowds, he said.

Electricity and gas

Power remains one of the city's weakest infrastructure points, according to Burt.

All of the city's electrical power is transported from two lines feeding from the east. A third, supplemental line also supplies power, but there are no connection points from the west, he said.

Morariu shares Burt's concerns. The February plane crash disabled the electrical transmission lines.

It was "a phenomenal test of the system. It was tragic, but if it had gone on beyond the point it did there would have been more significant issues. People were coming home from work just as the power came back on," she said.

Not only are homes and businesses powered by electricity, but city systems such as traffic signals and water pumps are, too.

Although adding a western power line may seem necessary, electrical security won't come cheap, Burt and Morariu said.

The western connection could cost an estimated $50 million to $200 million, according to Morariu.

The city is investigating other transmission-path options jointly with PG&E, including burying a portion of one of the eastern PG&E lines underground. A preliminary report will take at least three to six months before being presented to the Utilities Advisory Commission for review and recommendations to the City Council, according to Linda Clerkson, communications manager for the city manager's office.

In the last four years, Palo Alto also prepared a preliminary design study for a connection to the 230-kiloVolt system that serves the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

"The system would be sized to serve the entire power needs of Palo Alto. It would be utilized on a normal basis for taking delivery of power to the city, not just for emergency use," she said.

The project is in the discussion phase, she added.

Natural-gas lines are more secure than electrical power, since the city currently has feeds from two separate supply sources, she said.

Though last week's San Bruno explosion has residents worried about the possibility of a similar incident occurring in Palo Alto, the city has more than 2,900 isolation valves in the gas-distribution system, according to Palo Alto Utilities Director Valerie Fong. These valves control or stop gas flow to individual city blocks.

"We can locate individual blocks of the system with existing valves. We can also isolate PG&E supplies to the city at our receiving stations," she said.

The city will be upgrading all four of the gas-receiving stations as part of its current maintenance schedule, including a re-build of the pressure-regulating system. The project will be open for bid by the end of this calendar year. Work on the re-build is anticipated to begin in May 2011 and be completed in October, prior to the start of the winter heating season, Clerkson said.

But the city is vigilant about maintaining and checking its pipes, she said.

"Currently, we are conducting our annual mobile leak survey of all gas mains in the city, which began at the beginning of September and runs for roughly a month. During 2009, Palo Alto utilities completed its annual walking survey to check for leaks of all 19,311 gas service lines. In addition, an annual mobile survey of all 207 miles of city gas main pipes was conducted.

"These surveys find few leaks -- all of which are repaired quickly -- and within the timelines required by the federal Department of Transportation.

"Of the city's 23,502 installed gas meters, fewer than 2.5 percent needed to be leak-tested and repaired," Clerkson said.

The city has been replacing all of its gas, water and wastewater pipelines to reduce seismic vulnerability, she added. There are no unfunded electricity or gas projects in the city's $500 million infrastructure backlog, she said.


The city is currently implementing a $50 million Emergency Water Supply and Storage project to ensure that Palo Alto has water if the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, from which the city receives its water, is damaged in an earthquake.

The emergency-water project includes installing a new 2.5-million-gallon reservoir at El Camino Park by 2013, along with building three new groundwater wells throughout the city, and rehabilitating the city's five existing groundwater wells.

A seismic analysis and upgrades at six existing water reservoirs are currently being performed, she said. A water-pumping system is nearly completed.

The system would provide water supplies for 30 days, with at least 8 hours' worth of water use a day, with four hours of water use a day allotted for fire suppression, according to the city.

Average water usage in the city is about 11 million gallons per day, according to Clerkson, with less during the winter and more during the summer.

How long the backup water supply would last depends upon how much residents would use and how much water is needed to quell fires, Clerkson said.

"To manage an unexpected reduction or disruption in supply, we would immediately ask customers to reduce their water usage, particularly if there was an emergency, such as an earthquake, which could cause longer-term disruptions," she added.

Powering water pumps could be a concern.

At one point during the February crash, city officials feared the water service would be disrupted because emergency generators that pump 2 million gallons had just six hours of power. The diesel-fueled generators were replenished in time, however, according to Morariu.

The city is planning to add onsite generators at both the El Camino Park site and at its Mayfield pumping station/reservoir site, Clerkson said. All of the wells have the ability to be supplied by portable generators. The city currently has a fleet of three generators dedicated to the water service, she said.

Normal delivery of water from Hetch Hetchy does not require electrical power, as the delivery system is gravity fed. The exception to this hydraulic delivery system is water supplies in the foothills west of Interstate 280. There are several reservoirs in the foothills that should be able to meet the demand until generators are placed at the pumping facilities to supplement the stored water, she said.

As with manpower and communication, the city is not operating in isolation. Palo Alto has water-interconnection locations and agreements with Mountain View, East Palo Alto, Stanford, and Purissima Hills Water District in the event of a shortage. Additional agreements are in development, according to Clerkson.

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Like this comment
Posted by andreas
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 18, 2010 at 9:00 am

andreas is a registered user.

1) During a major event, non-essential telephone lines are turned off so fire, police, emergency etc. can respond. Your home telephone will not work (you can only call fire department, police, hospitals). But your cell phone's SMS will work. You can send messages and communicate with people OUTSIDE the area (in other states). (Tip: Get a battery recharger for your cell phone that doesn't depend on the wall outlet.)

2) Put together an earthquake kit: food, supplies, medical, etc. for two weeks. Food for you, your pets, etc. Place this where you can get it if your house/apt building collapse.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of University South
on Sep 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

To expand on Andreas excellent comments, maintain a OUT-OF-STATE contact. Tell this person they are responsible for calling your loved ones in the event of an emergency. Calling out of the local area is usually far easier in a disaster than the other way around. Also, familiarize your family with a website such as the Red Cross Safe and Well program, which allows people to register themselves to let others know "I'm Okay" after a major disaster. After major disasters there usually are a bunch of websites that pop up to do this, but the Red Cross one is well established and has served many disasters:

Web Link

I think Judy Kleinberg hit the nail on the head when she said, frankly, that in a disaster, "You're on your own". Make a kit, have a plan and be informed! I really encourage people to have a battery operated radio so you can listen for information - it will be the only way once the power is out.

If I recall, the emergency water supply and storage project was built thanks to a ballot measure that Palo Alto citizens voted on. I just wanted to say thanks to all Palo Alto residents for doing that - it was important step forward in preparing for emergencies.

Like this comment
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2010 at 11:13 am

I think the best thing you can do is have a gas valve wrench and a plumber's key. Turn off your gas, turn off your water, and leave the area for a while. Once things settle, come back.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2010 at 11:15 am

Two things

Use your cell phone to text not to make calls. Calls will drop or not get through when there is too much traffic, but a text will get through when the service can do it even if it takes an hour or so. Get in the habit of charging your cell daily so that there is more chance of having a longer battery charge.

Keep an old phone with a cord and a phone book plus written list of contact numbers as an old phone does not need power to work.

Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2010 at 12:57 am

Two important words are missing from this story -- Mutual Aid. No city can handle a San Bruno-sized disaster. That's why we have mutual aid, where neighboring fire departments come in to help. And we return the favor for them. It's an excellent way of keeping preparedness high and costs low. Funny, though, the people who want to raise taxes never mention mutual aid. That might be because it wipes out their scare tactic arguments.

Like this comment
Posted by BaY ArEa
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2010 at 8:46 am

but what if the water levels rise for some reason?or if there are gas leaks every were and theres a big chance that gas pipes might blow?you never know we are expecting a big earth quake pretty soon we wont know how strong it would be until it happens.our own government might be behind all these so called natural disasters with project harp witch they use to control the weather.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark , midtown 50 years
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2010 at 8:56 am

Get involved in P.A.N.D.A.(palo alto neighborhood disaster association)Take the course study hands on training(FREE). You will be able to respond with skill and confidence to situations that would normally be outside your comfort zone.

Make a point of knowing your neighbors.

Put together a "go" bag with essentials, remember the first 72 is on you, so have 3 days worth of essentials. Yes, that's 3 days without water, power and city services.

Be calm, be trained, be prepared!!

Like this comment
Posted by andreas
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

andreas is a registered user.

1) You need more than three days of supplies. In Katrina, it took the US government nearly 10 days to react. For the first week, there was zero help. You need food, water, and a supply of your medicines, along with clothes and a tent for two full weeks.

2) Leaving the area: In a major earthquake, the overpasses may collapse and block the freeways. Around six million people live in the Bay Area. It'll be the mother of all traffic jams. There will be no gasoline, food, or water along the freeways.

Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

"mutual aid" is not going to happen most likely in the event of a big earthquake in the area.
Every city will be busy running their own emergencies and dealing with not enough emergency workers. Mutual aid from outside the bay area will take time to get here under perfect roadway conditions.
People will have to be able to take care of small problems on their own for at least a few days.

Like this comment
Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Joo
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

What about the JPA for the creek? Can they do anything. What about Kevin Murray and the others?

Like this comment
Posted by Think-Big-Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

> "mutual aid" is not going to happen most likely in the event
> of a big earthquake in the area

"Mutual Aid" often is used to refer to agreements between neighboring city governments to offer police/fire support when needed. However, in a "big one", there will no doubt be other resources that will be marshaled from areas that are not local. The question is, has anyone at City Hall, the County and State actually put together plans to coordinate with these resources from around the country?

Presumably FEMA has a role in this coordination, but there doesn't seem to be much in this article that hints at FEMAs role.

Utilities repair could be an issue, since no utility company is outfitted to deal with a complete collapse of its infrastructure. This happened in coastal Virginia in 2003, when Hurricane Isabel took out the electrical and telephone grid from Cape Hatteras to Baltimore. Electrical and telephone crews showed up from all over the East Coast, and spent the next 40 days rebuilding what was pretty much a complete knockdown of the grid. Has Palo Alto made any effort to seek "mutual aid" agreements with other electric utilities outside the Bay Area?

Katrina reinforced the point that people need to be prepared to deal with their own problems for the first week or so. However, after that, it makes no sense not to expect to be able to draw on resources outside our immediate area.

Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2010 at 6:40 pm

The best advice is (modified from the Red Cross)
1) Make a Plan (family plan with out of area contacts)
2) Build a Kit
3) Be Aware
4) Be Informed - get trained
5) Volunteer

September has been declared Emergency Preparedness month by the Palo Alto City Council (following the national directive of the Department of Homeland Security). There are many activities that you can participate in, including a class tomorrow night on personal preparedness. See

This site has been developed by the Palo Alto Neighborhoods and includes a wealth of information on buying supplies, specific information on types of disasters (earthquake, fire, flood, pandemic influenza) and more.

There is also information on how you can get connected to the 2 types of community volunteer programs - PANDA (Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activities) AKA CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and the Palo Alto Neighborhoods(PAN) Block Preparedness Coordinator (BPC) Program.

In a major disaster we must be prepared to be self sufficient. However, we aren't alone. Join the PANDA or the PAN program and be
part of building a resilient Palo Alto. Remember "Chance favors those who are prepared."

Like this comment
Posted by mr. Fischer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 11:21 pm

"FYI",...To those concerned, Oh! First of all "THANK YOU ANNETTE",...At a time of crisis such as earthquake,..flood and fires the best preparedness is saving life of all citizens without concious predjudice, you never know which end you will end upon, the saver or the savee. This is stage one,.....then the survival comes,meaning you are hungry or thirsty. After we come together as a community, then the President and/or the Govenor can declare the area a disaster in a state of an emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.),...can and will distribute the billions of dollars that is alloted by the government. Your home is subjected to being red, yellow,..and hopefully green tagged. As an ex FEMA helpline operator I can go on about recovery. Lets say there are people locally (like me),.. that are trained and inspired to help.

Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

Don't worry, that shiny new van with the flashing lights will protect us all from the 9.0

Like this comment
Posted by Think-Big-Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm

The following is an example of how the Federal government, and other public/private entities kicked in to rebuild after Hurricane Isabel (2003) demolished most of Eastern Virginia--
Web Link

On the day of Isabel moving through the state, President George W. Bush declared 18 counties and 14 independent cities as disaster areas, making residents and business-owners there eligible for federal funding. Additionally, funds were allocated for state and local governments in the 31 designated jurisdictions to pay 75% of the eligible cost for debris removal and emergency services related to the hurricane, including requested emergency work undertaken by the federal government.[32] Many other jurisdictions were added, based on subsequent damage reports, and by September 22, 99 jurisdictions were eligible for disaster assistance.[33] The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided hurricane-related bulletins, including safety tips[34] and the method for removing hazardous materials.[35] By 12 days after the passage of the hurricane, FEMA distributed more than 6.3 million lbs. (2.9 million kg) of ice and 1.4 million gallons (5.3 million litres) of water to areas affected by Isabel. Disaster Recovery Centers, which contain information on the aftermath process, were opened in eight locations and received more than 1,850 inquiries. More than 350 FEMA inspectors visited homes to verify damages caused by Isabel, and by the end of September 2003 about 12,000 inspections were completed. In response to the power outages, FEMA installed 28 generators at disaster-affected critical public facilities to support life-sustaining community needs.[36] By about four months after the hurricane, 93,139 individuals in the designated areas applied for disaster assistance, while 20,417 people visited Disaster Recovery Centers throughout the state. The Small Business Administration approved more than 3,000 low-interest disaster loans from homes and businesses, with the value of the loans totaling $74 million (2003 USD; $87 million 2008 USD). The government provided $105 million (2003 USD; $123 million 2008 USD) for debris removal, emergency protective services, and permanent work, and approved about $25.9 million (2003 USD; $30.3 million 2008 USD) for life-sustaining needs such as water, ice, and generators at critical public facilities. Monetary assistance for temporary rental assistance and minimal home repairs totaled $32 million (2003 USD; $37 million 2008 USD), as well.[37]
Volunteer agencies arrived in the state to assist in the aftermath of the hurricane, and by about ten days after Isabel volunteers served more than 550,000 meals to affected residents.[38] Over 10 volunteer organizations, under the coordination of Virginia's Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, worked to help individuals with debris removal across the state.[39]
Dominion Virginia Power quickly began to restore the widespread power outages with a workforce of about 11,000, working between 14 to 16 hours per day.[40] By two days after the storm, about 900,000 remained without power.[41] By five days after the storm, about 584,000 throughout the state were still without power,[15] and by ten days after Isabel the total dropped to about 160,000, most of whom were in the Hampton Roads area.[42] Improper use of generators caused three indirect storm deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from improper ventilation of homes.[7]
With Moffett Field in the middle of the Silicon Valley, there is plenty of airstrip to allow large and small aircraft to fly in aid.

Presumably Palo Alto (and all of the other SV government agencies) have emergency plans that anticipate aid from outside the area. But how many government officials (elected and selected) have read these documents, and are prepared to put them into action when the immediate danger of whatever "disaster" that has befallen us is over?

Like this comment
Posted by WTF
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Why the hell is the city wasting money on police equipment, that will never even get used... For christ's sake, stop wasting money on crap.

Like this comment
Posted by Fireman
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2010 at 10:23 am

Funny thread,, Palo Alto is a Disaster.. Gas pipes? What gas pipes??

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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