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Earthquake Preparedness Month: Are you awake or have you fallen asleep?

Just a few days before the month of April began, two earthquakes rocked Southern California. First, a 5.1 magnitude quake in La Habra on March 28, followed by a 4.1 aftershock 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles the next day. These jolts shook buildings and rattled nerves, but did not cause significant damage. It seems as if Mother Nature was kicking off Earthquake Preparedness Month with a wake up call for all to be ready and prepared for an earthquake, wherever you might be!

Southern California gets more earthquakes than any part of the U.S., only Alaska and the Big Island of Hawaii see more than California. On average, Southern California has about 10,000 earthquakes each year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). That’s more than 27 a day!

We live in Earthquake Country; scientists believe there is a probability of more than 99% that in the next 30 years California will experience one or more magnitude 6.7 or greater quakes.

In 2012, USGS released a 13-year study on the Cascadia Subduction Zone that amplifies why everyone needs to be prepared. This study reveals that Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are home to this dangerous fault line and while it’s not as famous as the San Andreas fault, this zone may have a much more dangerous potential. In the study, scientists say that America’s Pacific Northwest has a 37% chance of being hit by a magnitude 8 or larger earthquake in the next 50 years. If a 9.0 earthquake were to strike along the state’s northern coast it could kill tens of thousands of people and cause $70 billion in damage.

It’s now mid-April. Have you hit the snooze button and fallen asleep on personal preparedness? Why not use this early wake up call and do everything we can to be better prepared to survive and recover, wherever we live, work, or travel.

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M. Reginald Salvador Appointed as Chief of Legislative and External Affairs at Cal OES

caloeslogo-horizontalSACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the following appointment.

M. Reginald Salvador, 40, of Folsom, has been appointed chief of legislative and external affairs at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Salvador has been a co-founder and the managing director of Diamante Partners LLC since 2007. He was program director at James Lee Witt Associates from 2004 to 2011 and a board advisor at the California Integrated Waste Management Board from 2003 to 2004. Salvador served in multiple positions in the Office of Governor Gray Davis from 1999 to 2003, including deputy cabinet secretary and special assistant to the cabinet secretary. He was a policy analyst in the Office of Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis from 1998 to 1999. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100,608. Salvador is a Democrat.

To read more on other appointments announced today, click here.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to California Small Businesses

SBA LogoSACRAMENTO, Calif. – Small, nonfarm businesses in three California counties and neighboring counties in Arizona are now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  “These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the drought that began on February 11, 2014, in the following primary county,” announced Tanya N. Garfield, Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

Primary California county:  Imperial;

Neighboring California counties:  Riverside and San Diego;

Neighboring Arizona counties:  La Paz and Yuma.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

 Small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

 “Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage.  These loans have an interest rate of 4% for businesses and 2.625% for private, nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private, nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster.  Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this disaster on April 9, 2014.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance.  Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency (FSA) about the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration.  However, in drought disasters nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.  Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339.  For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster.

The deadline to apply for these loans is December 9, 2014.

Drought Task Force Meets with Central Coast on Drought Impacts, Response Efforts

 Governor’s Drought Task Force Discusses Drought Impacts in Santa Cruz.

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Today, leaders of the Governor’s Drought Task Force met with local officials in Santa Cruz County to hear first-hand accounts and direct impacts of the current drought. City and county leaders, water managers and elected officials gathered at the Santa Cruz Police Department to hear directly from each of the Task Force Members – Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci; California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird; California Department of Public Health Deputy Director Mark Starr and California Department of Food & Agriculture Undersecretary Sandra Schubert on the actions the State Government can take to mitigate the impacts of the current drought.

“Our goal continues to be in front of this crisis,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Chair of the Governor’s Drought Task Force.

California is a very diverse state, and therefore every area has been affected differently. These meetings give the Governor’s Drought Task Force leaders an opportunity to speak with local officials on their unique issues about the drought while the State monitors the overall picture and the current impacts to agriculture, businesses, jobs, and the cost of commodities, like food and other supplies.

“We are going around the state to hear what’s going on in your communities and break down traditional ways to go about solutions,” said John Laird, Secretary – California Natural Resources Agency. “This drought is showing us that people are working together, and we’re never far from the people we work with.”

The 10-mile wide strip of Santa Cruz County that stretches between the coast and the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains at the northern end of the Monterey Bay is a good example to the rest of the state that water does not share boundaries. In the scarcity of water, the people of Santa Cruz have been actively involved in water conservation efforts and sharing good practices.

“It was impressive to hear from the community about the steps they are taking to address water supply issues related to the drought.  CDPH is happy to be part of the solution and to continue to help tackle ongoing drought related drinking water concerns,” said Mark Starr, CDPH deputy director.

The task force reminded attendees to continue to communicate their specific problems as the year progresses, so state leaders can engage with emergency networks, leverage both levels of government and collaborate for solutions.

“This meeting was very successful, we heard specific issues, so we know what kind of actions we need to take,” said Sandra Schubert, Undersecretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture.

Even with the recent storms, we continue to have one of the driest years in the history of California. Water conservation is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound way to reduce demand for water.

For the latest actions by the state and the Drought Task Force, follow us on Twitter!

Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 7 Deploys for Washington State for Mudslide Response

Sacramento City TF7 Deploys for Wa State

Images captured on April 2, 2014 as US&R TF7 prepared their gear for deployment in Sacramento, Calif.

In response to a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services coordinated the activation and deployment of Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 7, based at the Sacramento City Fire Department, to the mudslide affected area near Arlington, Washington.

On March 22, 2014, a large mudslide occurred 17 miles east of Arlington, WA near Oso (pop. 180), in Snohomish County.  Mud, debris, and scarring span 1.3 square miles, block State Route 530, damaged structures and covered a large area to an estimated depth of 15 to 20 feet deep in places. Several fatalities have been confirmed and there are still people unaccounted for.

Despite Storms, Snowpack Still Far Below Normal Drought Retains Grip as Summer Approaches

SACRAMENTO – Department of Water Resources snow surveyors today found the Sierra snowpack boosted by late-season storms, but still far below normal as the spring melt fast approaches. Coupled with this winter’s scant rainfall, the meager snowpack — containing only 32 percent of average water content for the date – promises a gloomy summer for California farms and many communities.

“We’re already seeing farmland fallowed and cities scrambling for water supplies,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin.  “We can hope that conditions improve, but time is running out and conservation is the only tool we have against nature’s whim.”

After a bone dry December and January, February and March storms brought some promise to the state, but have not broken the drought’s three-year grip as reservoirs, rainfall totals and the snowpack remain critically low. Today’s manual and electronic readings – at the time of year the snowpack normally is at its peak before melting into streams and reservoirs – record the snowpack’s statewide water content at just 32 percent of average.

Photo Courtesy:  Randall Benton, Sacramento Bee. Latest snowpack measurement reveals the  Statewide snowpack is just 52 percent of average.

Latest snowpack measurement reveals the Statewide snowpack is just 52 percent of average.  Courtesy: Randall Benton, Sacramento Bee.

Electronic readings indicate that snowpack water content in the state’s northern mountains is 23 percent of normal.  The electronic readings for the central and southern Sierra are 38 and 31 percent of normal, respectively.

This is dismal news for farms and cities that normally depend on the snowpack – often called California’s largest reservoir – for a third of their water.  And reservoirs are not making up the difference.

Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project’s (SWP) principal reservoir, is at only 49 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity (64 percent of its historical average for the date).  Shasta Lake north of Redding, California’s and the federal Central Valley Project’s (CVP) largest reservoir, is at 48 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity (60 percent of its historical average).  San Luis Reservoir, a critical south-of-Delta reservoir for both the SWP and CVP, is a mere  42 percent of its 2 million acre-foot capacity (46 percent of average for this time of year) due both to dry weather and Delta pumping restrictions to protect salmon and Delta smelt.

Snow surveyors from DWR and cooperating agencies manually measure snowpack water content on or about the first of the month from January through May to supplement and check the accuracy of real-time electronic readings.  This year’s final manual survey is scheduled for May 1.

Results of today’s manual readings by DWR off Highway 50 near Echo Summit are as follows:

Location

Elevation

Snow Depth

Water Content

% of Long

Term Average

Alpha

7,600 feet

 inches

 inches

missing

Phillips Station

6,800 feet

33.7 inches

8.1 inches

29

Lyons Creek

6,700 feet

 inches

 inches

missing

Tamarack Flat

6,500 feet

 inches

 inches

missing

On January 31, with no relief in sight after the winter’s first snow survey on January 3 found more bare ground than snow, DWR set its allocation of State Water Project water at zero.  The allocation has not been increased.

The only previous zero allocation (water delivery estimate) was for agriculture in the drought year of 1991, but cities that year received 30 percent of requested amounts.

Despite the “zero” allocation, DWR has continued to deliver water essential for health and safety and nearly all people and areas served by the State Water Project also have other sources of water.

Deliveries could still be boosted by improving hydrology.

The final State Water Project allocation for calendar year 2013 was 35 percent of the slightly more than 4 million acre-feet requested by the 29 public agencies that collectively supply more than 25 million people and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.  In 2012, the final allocation was 65 percent of the requested 4 million acre-feet.  It was 80 percent in 2011, up dramatically from an initial allocation of 25 percent.  The final allocation was 50 percent in 2010, 40 percent in 2009, 35 percent in 2008, and 60 percent in 2007.  The last 100 percent allocation – difficult to achieve even in wet years because of Delta pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish – was in 2006.

Although 2013 was the driest calendar year on record for much of California, last-minute November and December storms in 2012 – the first year of the current drought – replenished major reservoirs to somewhat mitigate dry conditions.  That comfortable reservoir cushion is now gone.

This year is on track to perhaps be California’s fifth or sixth driest year, with its final ranking to be determined.

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L.A. County Residents, Boaters Learn About Tsunamis and their Impacts

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Keynote speaker Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey and panelists Dr. Patrick Lynette of USC, L.A. County Office of Emergency Management Director Jeff Reeb and Senior Engineering Geologist Dr. Rick Wilson of the California Geological Survey answer questions during the March 24 tsunami preparedness forum at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.

 

 

Nearly 300 residents, renters, boaters and Community Emergency Response Team members from Los Angeles County beaches and harbor cities and organizations, as well as the City of Long Beach Alamitos Bay community attended the “Tsunami Awareness and Emergency Preparedness: Meet the Experts at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach” on March 24.

The attendees were provided information on the potential impacts a tsunami could cause to Southern California coastal communities and learned how to prepare themselves and their property.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), who presented on a plausible tsunami scenario as part of the Scientific Application for Risk Reduction (SAFRR) project.

“Many people think a tsunami is one giant wave, but that is not the case,” Dr. Jones said. “A tsunami leads to an extremely rapid rise in sea level that could last for a day or more.”

Following Dr. Jones’ presentation, a scientific panel discussion was held that featured Senior Engineering Geologist Dr. Rick Wilson of the California Geological Survey (CGS), County of Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management Director Jeff Reeb and Associate Professor Dr. Patrick Lynett of the USC Tsunami Research Center.

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Tsunami forum attendees receive tips on from Kate Long of the Cal OES Earthquake and Tsunami Program.

 

“Tsunamis are very rare events that occur in California, particularly in Southern California,” said Dr. Wilson of CGS. “Nonetheless, tsunamis can be deadly if people are not prepared. People living and working in the tsunami evacuation zone areas need to know what to do when a Tsunami Warning, the highest level of alert, is issued by the National Tsunami Warning Center.”

The most effective way to survive, he said, is to get out of the tsunami evacuation zone areas.

Dr. Jones noted a vulnerability study was conducted and indicated that 75,000 people are living and working in the tsunami evacuation zone areas, and that a remarkably large number of schools, day care centers and adult care facilities are within the tsunami inundation zone areas. Nearly three-quarters of a million people would be required to evacuate in the event a tsunami that is generated by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake off the coast of Alaska. She encouraged first responders and emergency managers to start the process of advance planning, in addition to identifying key law enforcement, fire, emergency management, and community stakeholders.

The panelists commented by saying one of the major challenges for first responders and emergency managers is that a large percentage of population who live and work in the tsunami inundation zone areas speak and comprehend different languages other than English. Another challenge is that first responders and emergency managers have to provide emergency/disaster preparedness information not only in different languages, but also in different formats so that they can communicate with the seniors, persons with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

“If you have a mobility challenge or you require a personal caregiver, it is very important that you have an A, B and C plan,” said Reeb. “The individual person’s plan A is for their normal day-to-day care giver environment.  Plan B should cover situations in which their normal caregiver environment is not available because the caregivers are caught up in the disaster themselves, and nobody is available to come to their rescue. We really encourage them to think that through, and have real conversations with their caregivers, family members, friends, and loved ones.”

The host and originator of the event, Dr. Edwin Shackeroff, a resident of Alamitos Bay, thanked the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jerry Schubel and his staff, Cal OES Kevin Miller and Kate Long, OEM Ken Kondo, Caltech Margaret Vinci and the panelists for taking time out of their busy schedules in coordinating and participating in this important emergency/disaster preparedness event.

After the conclusion of the scientific panel discussion, attendees were able to speak to representatives from Cal OES, CGS, OEM, American Red Cross, Business Industry Council on Emergency Planning and Preparedness (BICEPP), and Earthquake Country Alliance who provided emergency/disaster preparedness information including materials that were in different languages and formats.

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