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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Message from Dennis Parker, "Will East Palo Alto be Another Katrina?"

The rain has returned, and the San Francisquito Creek levee adjacent to East Palo Alto has not been repaired. The mayor declared a local state of emergency last February and funds were recently allocated. But no construction has begun. This means that East Palo Alto residents—especially those in the Gardens neighborhood—are at great risk for a disaster if the levee breaks from the combination of winter storms and high tides. Please make this an issue when you speak to candidates for City Council, and let it guide you when you vote this November.

Although collaboration discussions are underway with the school district, medical clinic, and local emergency response agencies, there is no published disaster preparedness plan, and the community forums that were promised have not taken place, to my knowledge. At the Special Joint City Council/Ravenswood School District Meeting last Tuesday, Councilmember Pat Foster asked that the City meet with the Gardens Neighborhood Association within the next three weeks, but it sounded more like a comment than a commitment (the Gardens Neighborhood Association meets on the second Saturday of each month).

There has been a lot of activity along the levee, and I will give you my detailed observations in another message. In the meantime, be reminded that government agencies from the Federal to the local level have cautioned you that in the event of a widespread disaster—such as an earthquake or a flood,--you are on your own for the first three-to-seven days. On the positive side, emergency preparedness agencies have published a wealth of self-help literature on what to do before, during, and after a disaster. I’ll point you to some of these resources soon, as I did last year.

In the meantime, this would be a good time to refresh you emergency supplies, update your emergency contact list, and review your personal evacuation plan.

Dennis J. Parker
Community Advocate

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