Surviving The Big One

How San Francisco’s safest building prepares for an earthquake

Surviving The Big One

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — It’s was built to be the safest building in San Francisco.

It’s the headquarters for 911 and the city’s Department of Emergency Management.

There are special phone lines, detailed maps and 3D imaging of the city.

Those are just a few of the resources you’ll find inside San Francisco’s Emergency Operation Center.

Executive Director Mary Ellen Carroll says their sole purpose is to minimize a disaster’s impact to the public.

“In a full activation, we would have representation from most city departments, of which there is over 40,” she said. “We would also have state and federal reps. FEMA would come here.”

The department also runs Alert SF, the emergency notification system that sends texts and emails to the public during any and all major events.

To sign up, simply text your zip code to 888777.

“What’s important here is we we can vet information and it’s information you can count on,” Carroll said.

Another resource here is the U.S. Geological Survey Shake Alert.

It’s not available to the public yet.

But it does give those working in the Department of Emergency Management some advanced notice if a damaging quake is on its way.

“The state has it for utilities and transportation, a few seconds can actually be a lot of time, for instance if you need to stop a train,” she said. “But that’s one of the challenges of sf when you’re so close to a fault line — you’re not going to have much time if it happens right under us.”

Because we never know when the big one will strike, the center is manned 24 hours per day.

“We’re practicing all these skills. It’s not much different than what we’d do on a day where we’d have a major earthquake or storm,” Carroll said. “We’d be coming here working together to make sure we have the resources we need.”

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