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EBX on Alameda’s earthquake risk

Submitted by on 1, February 26, 2009 – 7:45 amOne Comment

Local scribe Rin Kelly’s got a great piece in the East Bay Express this week that talks about whether Alameda is ready for the next big quake.

Local contractor Ken Gutleben says he’s worried the system set up to pump water in the event of an earthquake might not get water to us fast enough to fight the fires that are likely to follow, and he thinks the city should invest in equipment to pump the water we’ll need. And some out at the fire department – including the department’s former disaster preparedness coordinator and the head of the firefighters union – agree.

Kelly reports that the equipment would run Alameda about $1.5 million, no small potatoes in these tough financial times. Berkeley invested three times that much in its own system, paid for through a bond measure. (Oakland and San Francisco also have backup systems.)

One Comment »

  • Mark Irons says:

    Thanks Michele and right on Ken and Rin Kelly. I talked to Ken about this last month and was thinking of writing something for the Alamedans aggregate blog, but this is better. I believe what Ken told me was that the pumps would run about $250,000 per, with another $150,00 for hoses and who knows what other gear. So $1.5 million would buy three pumps. My understanding is that Berkeley has pumps which are set to pump from the Aquatic Park up to Telegraph. The width of the island is much shorter than that and we have water on both sides. It's too damn bad about the plan not being developed, because despite that it is essentially a shovel ready project.

    Even with the new lower median home price reported over at 94501 today the ratio of pump cost to a home is about one to one.

    Tangential topic is seismic gas valves. Our home is one of several early 1900 wood shingle homes about eight feet apart. I know some have open pilot gravity furnaces which would turn the street into a book of matches. I have a seismic gas valve which originally was frowned on by PG&E because they can be accidentally triggered, which ours never has been. I hear the attitude about these valves is changing. They are cheaper than pumps.

    ANOTHER seismic issue is bad chimneys. They are lurking around Alameda like time bombs. In Alameda many have no liners and are unsafe for use. My neighbor had a steel liner installed and at the same time they tore the chimney down into the attic and rebuilt it above the roof line with rebar and steel angle iron bracing. I am recommending my next door neighbor think about it because their fireplace is not safe for use and their chimney will sail through my bathroom window in the big one. There are good craftsmen who can do this for about $5000. In Loma Prieta in Oakland literally heard two chimneys tumble through the roof of the homes. Ba-Boom!

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