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Contra Costa Food Bank Seismic Relocation

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - On Oct. 17, 1989, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale rocked the San Francisco Bay area. Named the Loma Prieta earthquake, it was felt by millions of people in a 400,000-square-mile area. Sixty-three persons died because of the earthquake. Another 13,757 persons were injured. The earthquake destroyed 1,018 homes and 366 businesses. Another 23,408 residences and 3,530 businesses were damaged.

Shelters accommodated thousands of people who needed food, lodging and other necessities, but responding agencies and local resources were quickly overwhelmed.

The Contra Costa Food Bank, a Bay Area organization that provides food and personal care items and also serves as a clearinghouse for donations made to help victims of disasters, was called upon to assist in the massive response to the widespread emergency. The food bank provided a valuable service to the victims of this devastating earthquake.

The food bank supports some 1.5 million persons in the Bay Area by providing food to agencies including non-profit organizations that serve meals to low-income people. It participates in the community disaster recovery plan by supporting the Salvation Army and American Red Cross with food and other necessities for distribution to victims of disasters.

Following the Loma Prieta earthquake, officials realized they had to either relocate or retrofit the building they had used, which is located close to a major Bay Area fault. A community-wide campaign generated $3 million in donations from private and public sources to pay for a new location in a seismically safe structure.

Constructed in 1997, the building that now houses the food bank met selection criteria and all other needs. It was built to meet the latest codes for construction to earthquake-safe standards, including reinforcement of floors.

Another $55,000 was invested in non-structural mitigation. This included installation of storage racks, donated by a local business. The racks were strapped to walls. Manually controlled skylights were installed to act as vents to release smoke in the event of a fire.

The cost of purchase of the building was $2.5 million. It offers protection to inventory, which totals an average of $6 million in value annually. The benefit could be as much as three times the investment for protection of inventory and providing an earthquake-resistant facility.

The building offers a safer place to work thus reducing risk of loss of life and injury to food bank employees and workers. It also provides potentially uninterrupted service to the community in the event of emergencies and disasters.

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Last updated February 11, 2021