Easiest Accolade EVER: SF Declared Tsunami-Ready

By Alex Brant-Zawadzki

Don't get me wrong, I understand how it's a good thing that San Francisco was, as of December 10, declared TsunamiReady™ by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I just don't think we had to try very hard.

"We're proud to have partnered with the National Weather Service on our comprehensive tsunami readiness program, and that we've become the largest city in the nation to earn the TsunamiReady™ designation," said Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Paul Hogarth laments on BeyondChron.org that while "the Mayor stalls on mid-year budget cut announcements, his office sends out press releases announcing that San Francisco is ready for the next tsunami." The thing is, budgets are really complicated and stuff. You know man, like, numbers. Numbers, man! Meanwhile, achieving trademark-Tsunami readiness must have been easy as pie for us. Check out these requirements:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
  • Have more than one way to receive tsunami and severe weather warnings and forecasts to alert the public;
  • Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
  1. First off, we all know that the city's network of after-hours clubs would make an excellent networked emergency operations center. Where else are you going to find an entire throng of people who are energized and alert at 4:47 on a Sunday morning?
  2. Next - more than one way to communicate? Let's see, beyond radio, television, the noon air-raid siren, the internet, police with megaphones and the Street Sheet, now we have Twitter. That's seven right there and I didn't even include text messages.
  3. As for a system that monitors local weather conditions? We have several. They go by such names as Oakland Airport, or SFO. These bastards monitor the weather with a ferocity that grounds aircraft and shatters holiday dreams all because of a bit of excessive moisture in the air.
  4. On to community seminars, which are about as difficult to organize in San Francisco as a piss-up in a brewery, which of course make for some of the best community seminars the city has to offer. Right up there with Drinking Liberally's weekly meeting spot in the backyard of Zeitgeist. Long story short, not exactly a chore.
  5. Finally, a formal hazardous weather program is a grand idea - but could it really have been that difficult? One memo: Change Disaster Focus From Earthquakes to Earthquakes and Tsumanis Please. Bam. Job done. Besides, what's an earthquake but hazardous weather underground?
What's my point? The city gets awarded a status which for all practical purposes it already had, and what do we get? A goddamn tsunami readiness toolkit, to make us even more prepared.

"Marking this achievement, city officials received a TsunamiReady™ toolkit that includes road signs that identify tsunami inundation zones, evacuation routes and safe areas."
Isn't this the sort of thing NOAA ought to give cities BEFORE they are certified Tsunamiready™? Aren't these signs the sort of thing a city should post BEFORE it be considered ready for a Tsunami (which is semantically different from TsunamiReady™)?

Are we trusting our future to politicians who prefer name-brand preparation to the real thing?
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