Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley CERT training is one of the city’s approaches to disaster preparedness. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Berkeley CERT training is one of the city’s approaches to disaster preparedness. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The city of Berkeley is holding a town hall meeting Wednesday focused on improving the community’s resilience in the face of natural disasters and “the stresses that weaken a city’s fabric.”

Chief Resilience Officer Timothy Burroughs and others, including Berkeley Fire Department personnel, are seeking ideas about how to increase Berkeley’s resilience and will discuss new incentives to lower the cost of home seismic upgrades to help prepare for natural disasters.

The meeting has been organized by the city manager’s office and the city’s Office of Emergency Services.

“The meeting is designed to empower residents with the information, services, and incentives they need before the next disaster occurs, and to hear residents’ insights on how the City can get more community members involved,” according to a statement from Interim City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley.

One approach the city is taking involves building redundancies into existing infrastructure to help when Berkeley’s systems risk being overloaded.

According to a statement released by the city to promote the town hall event, these redundancies already exist in Berkeley in its stormwater system. Instead of simply installing larger pipes to divert runoff into the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley has built a “rain garden” at Allston Way and California Street to divert stormwater and remove pollutants, while also beautifying the neighborhood, the city says.

This creates “multiple benefits instead of only responding to one challenge in isolation.”

The city is also looking at building a “micro-grid” to help during power outages.

“A traditional solution might put a diesel generator next to a building,” according to the city. “In Berkeley, the City is looking to put solar panels on the roof of the future Center Street garage. That solution provides cleaner energy, reduces energy costs, and could provide a source of back­up power for nearby facilities.”

The city might also adjust its approach to tree planting by focusing its efforts in disadvantaged neighborhoods, “providing a social benefit along with an environmental benefit.”

Wednesday’s workshop is part of the city’s process to develop Berkeley’s “Resilience Strategy,” a requirement related to the city’s selection in 2013 for a Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities grant.

The town hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 4, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center at 2939 Ellis St. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

There are several other events coming up related to disaster preparedness in Berkeley.

  • Nov. 8: The Berkeley Fire Department is organizing a drill to simulate an emergency in the Berkeley BART tunnel system. It will involve numerous patients to test firefighters’ ability to triage, treat and transport a large number of patients. The Fire Department is seeking volunteers to act as patients, who will need to be available from 4-7:30 a.m. Register online.
  • Nov. 10: The monthly CERT volunteer meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at 997 Cedar St. at 7 p.m. The topic: “When Someone Next to You Sneezes: The Beginning of a Pandemic Flu.” A nurse from the Berkeley Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program will discuss the epidemiology of flu pandemics, public health response, how flu strains are determined year by year, the flu danger in 2015-16, best ways to prevent catching the flu and spreading it, and who among us is most vulnerable.

Read more about disaster preparedness in Berkeley.

As drought raises fire risk, Berkeley focuses on safety (10.05.15)
Berkeley appoints first ‘chief resilience officer’ (08.07.14)
Berkeley named one of 33 resilient cities in global network (12.06.13)
Berkeley greenhouse gas emissions down 8% since 2000 (09.06.13)

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...