Palo Alto proudly celebrated its emergency-preparedness efforts Thursday night and honored neighborhood leaders and community activists who have helped prepare the city for the next "Big One."
The event was organized by the Palo Alto/Stanford Citizen Corps Council, a coalition of city officials and community activists who are leading the city's disaster-preparation effort. It coincided with President Barrack Obama's visit to Palo Alto, an event that prompted a massive police presence in the city Thursday night. About 100 officers, some from as far away as San Mateo or Gilroy, came to town to help with security, according to Police Chief Dennis Burns.
Palo Alto's new Mobile Command Center, a high-tech bus filled with all the latest communication gadgets, was also enlisted in the security effort. The city planned to host public tours of the new mobile center before the awards ceremony, but canceled these tours the day before Obama's visit.
The bus made an appearance in front of City Hall just after the awards were handed out.
Despite the change of plans and the traffic disruptions caused by Obama's visit, local residents packed in to the Council Chambers at City Hall Thursday to watch the award presentations and hear a lecture from the event's keynote speaker, geophysicist Ross Stein from the United States Geological Survey.
Stein discussed the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and demonstrated to the audience the physics behind earthquakes.
Annette Glanckopf, neighborhood representative for the Citizen Corps, was the introductory speaker and the Boy Scout Troop 5 color guard led a flag ceremony.
Mayor Pat Burt and Burns both talked about Palo Alto's emergency-preparedness effort, which is one of the City Council's top priorities for 2010. Burns emphasized the critical importance of community involvement in emergency preparation.
Award winners received certificates of recognition and commendation from U.S. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss and the City of Palo Alto.
The recipients of the 2010 Achievement Awards were Bernadette Burns-Line of Stanford Hospital; Dr. Enoch Choi of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Doug Kalish, member of the Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity (PANDA); Lydia Kou of Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN); Karl Matzke from the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter; Tom Prussing of Stanford University and Bob Sikora of PANDA.
The Citizen Corps Council also awarded Special Recognition Awards to Diane Churchill from the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto; Ann Crichton, a PAN neighborhood preparedness coordinator; Sue Dremann, staff writer at the Palo Alto Weekly; Sheri Furman, chair of PAN; and Lisa Pelletier, an emergency preparedness specialist at the Stanford School of Medicine.
A special award was presented to Officer Kenneth Dueker, the city's coordinator of Homeland Security and community outreach, for his extensive community-wide work on disaster preparedness and the mobile emergency vehicle.