San Francisco, Calif. -- Volunteers will bring an early Christmas to Oakland this week as they help safeguard a dozen homes against earthquakes and fires.
Today and Wednesday (April 27 and 28), about 30 adult and youth volunteers will visit 12 homes of elderly and low-income people to do nonstructural earthquake retrofitting and to remove various fire hazards. The volunteers will install water heater straps, cabinet latches, smoke detectors and releases for window security bars. They will also educate residents on the importance of emergency preparedness.
The two-day event, dubbed Christmas in April, is the latest event for the City of Oakland's Project Safe - one of many innovative programs the city has undertaken since it was named as a pilot community for Project Impact, a nationwide initiative led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Now comprised of 188 localities, Project Impact is aimed at building disaster-resistant communities. In Oakland and elsewhere, Project Impact is based on three common-sense principles: preventive actions must be decided at the local level; private sector participation is vital; and long-term efforts and investments in damage prevention are essential.
"Oakland is at the forefront when it comes to partnerships among government, the business community, grassroots groups, and individual citizens," said Martha Whetstone, regional director of FEMA Region IX in San Francisco.
Volunteers for the upcoming activities include representatives of the American Red Cross, Oakland Fire Services Agency, CARD, and AmeriCorps VISTA.