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On April 18, 1906 San Francisco, California was near totally destroyed from a great earthquake and an ensuing devastating fire. The 1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance has been formed to help coordinate the activities between organizations throughout Northern California planning to commemorate the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
The 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference, convened jointly by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and the Seismological Society of America, will bring together leaders in the fields of seismology, engineering, and disaster management.
The original full versions of the articles published in the 1906 Special Edition from the California Geology and Mineral Information Service magazines have been reproduced digitally and available for download below. How emergency response would be different than it was 24 years ago following the Loma Prieta earthquake. Rubble from a collapsed Marina District apartment building litters one lot while nearby, a building is shored up after the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, Calif., in 1989.
A worker surveys the damage caused by the fire in San Francisco's Marina District after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989. Today Bay Area residents live with the realization that another big quake is in their future.
One of the most obvious differences is that today, there is a seismically reinforced and modern emergency operations center.
San Francisco now uses the WebEOC incident management tool for situational awareness and to help keep everyone on the same page. Earthquake response in California has benefited not just from previous quakes, but also lessons learned during other types of emergencies.
The San Francisco DEM has adopted several social media channels and continues to experiment with them during events. There are many exhibits, tours, lectures, conferences, work shops, new publication releases, etc.

The Alliance brings together policy makers, scientists, engineers, historians, teachers, and emergency responders to explore the lessons learned from this earthquake and ways to minimize the impact of future earthquakes on the San Francisco Bay area. These institutions will be focused on integrating disaster mitigation efforts to create strong communities in all earthquake vulnerable areas.
I was just getting ready to drive home to Palo Alto, a few miles from the editorial offices of InfoWorld, a technology publication in Menlo Park, where I worked.
If a major quake struck today, how would emergency management be different than it was 24 years ago?
This year’s functional exercise focused on carrying out policies, response and recovery for up to 48 hours after the earthquake hit. In response to problems experienced during the Oakland Hills fires in 1991, the California Legislature passed a law requiring a clear incident command system during emergencies. The Alliance plans to provide guides and brochures to the entire collection of centennial events as well as marketing and overall coordination of public relations for the wide range of planned activities. Geological Survey estimated that there is a 63 percent probability of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake in the Bay Area in the next 30 years. There have been many lessons learned cumulatively since Loma Prieta in terms of emergency response, said Rob Dudgeon, deputy director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM), where he leads the Division of Emergency Services.
Earlier this year, Emergency Management gave readers an inside look at the new EOC during the Golden Guardian exercise in May, during which agencies worked together on practicing for the response and recovery to a simulated magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Representatives of the agencies participating in the exercise relied on both technology as well as face-to-face communication to help each other follow protocol. The standardized emergency management system provides for a five-level emergency response organization, and is intended to structure and facilitate the flow of emergency information and resources within and between the organizational levels. AlertSF sends alerts regarding emergencies disrupting vehicular and pedestrian traffic as well as citywide post-disaster information to registered wireless devices and email accounts.

Registrants can also sign up to receive English-language automated information feeds and alerts targeted to specific areas of the city. Coulter was an artist and journalist best known for his authentic portrayals of sailing ships and everyday dock life in the San Francisco Bay area during the time before and after the great 1906 earthquake and fire. Bookshelves and desktops all emptied their contents into the aisles, but there were no injuries. Foremost among Coulter works on display at the exhibit will be the oil painting displayed to the left titled San Francisco Fire, 1906.
The artist’s vivid portrayal of the fire that burned for three days destroying thousands of buildings was sketched during repeated trips on the Sausalito Ferry during the evacuation of the city.
It proved to be both a major test of area emergency management and a wake-up call about the region’s disaster preparedness efforts.
Coulter later completed the painting on a 5- by 10-foot window shade he salvaged during the fire. Poster prints of Coulter’s San Francisco Fire, 1906, will be sold at the exhibit.Although Coulter paintings continue to turn up in homes and institutions around the world, the whereabouts of about two-thirds of his works are unknown. The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is spearheading a quest to locate Coulter works that have disappeared over the years.

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