FEMA Welcomes Berkeley as California's Newest Project Impact Community

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Release date: 
November 10, 1999
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Berkeley, November 10, 1999 -- Citing Berkeley as one of the most proactive cities in the United States when it comes to making their community disaster resistant, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) welcomes the Bay Area city as California's newest Project Impact community. Along with the honor comes technical support, mentoring from other communities and a money grant that Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean already has plans for using.

Removing people from harm's way and supporting the development of disaster-resistant communities is a critical element of Project Impact, a nationwide disaster prevention initiative started in 1997 by FEMA Director James Lee Witt. More than 120 communities and 1,000 business partners throughout the country are participating in this effort.

For years, Berkeley has been very active in taking steps to prevent damages before disasters strike, has involved all aspects of the community in its efforts, and in fact was named 1998 Project Impact Model Community of the Year. This new designation for Berkeley as an official Project Impact Community is a recognition by Witt for all the effort made by the local officials and members of the community in working together to make their hometown better prepared for future disasters.

"The city of Berkeley exemplifies a city that consistently applies its energy and resources to achieve increased levels of protection for their residents and their properties," said Martha Whetstone, Regional Director of FEMA Region IX in San Francisco. "FEMA invited Berkeley to participate as a Project Impact community because of the history of damage in their area, the probability that the residents will face disasters in the future, and the community's willingness to participate in the disaster resistant programs."

"It's a matter of pride with us that FEMA has given us this designation and has recognized the work that we have done, particularly earthquake preparedness," said Dean.

"We really believe in the tenets of Project Impact, that you must have participation by all members of the community. You really can't become a disaster resistant community unless you involve everyone in the community, your businesses, your schools, your churches, your residents, they all have to be a part of the effort. And we're really proud of the fact that in Berkeley all these elements have stepped up to the plate."

"Berkeley has faced a number of natural disasters in the past, and they have reacted to these risks by creating and participating in a number of proactive measures," said Whetstone. "Berkeley's unprecedented commitment has been demonstrated in a number of ways, including earthquake seismic retrofitting, programs to reduce damages due to earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides, and their unique partnership with the University of California, Berkeley that serves as a model of how communities and educational institutions can work together to become disaster resistant."

"Our community is really impacted by the northern section of the Hayward fault, by landslides and by wildfires, so we are extremely happy about the fact that FEMA has recognized us and there is a grant involved with this that will help us educate our residents." Dean said. The mayor said the $300,000 grant money will be used in public education programs "to reinforce to our residents how important it is to be prepared. Those kinds of things are very important to have in place before the disaster occurs."

Project Impact is a nationwide effort to change how Americans deal with disasters by helping communities protect themselves from the devastating effects of natural disasters by taking actions that drastically reduce disruption and loss. The incentive is clear - a disaster resistant community is able to bounce back from a natural disaster with far less loss of property and consequently much less cost for repairs. FEMA estimates that for eve...

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