By Matt Nauman
SACRAMENTO — Being prepared before a natural disaster or emergency is a crucial step with many benefits, including saving lives. And if learning about preparedness can be fun, that’s all the better.
That was the premise behind the California Day of Preparedness held Saturday (Aug. 26) in Old Sacramento. PG&E, the primary corporate sponsor, worked closely with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) for several months to plan the event, which drew more than 5,000 people.
The event took place just hours after the landfall of Hurricane Harvey on the Texas coast, and the subsequent flooding. Several speakers referenced that storm during the event’s opening ceremony, noting that it was another reminder that people need to plan ahead for disasters.
PG&E had a large and visible presence from vehicles (a bucket truck, Mobile Command Vehicle, Picarro gas-leak detection, 811/Locate and Mark); booths (from Customer Care and Geosciences to Gas and Electric Safety Boards and more); to demonstrations where PG&E’s Pam Perdue showed the proper way to deal with a live wire on a vehicle.
PG&E’s Emergency Preparedness & Response department organized the company’s presence and staffed a booth that provided advice on how to prepare for disasters and emergencies.
Dozens of fire trucks and emergency rescue vehicles were on display. State and federal agencies ranging from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the California Department of Water Resource, Cal Fire, the California Highway Patrol and others had booths with information and plenty of giveaways and checklists.
Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci thanked PG&E for its sponsorship of the 12th annual California Day of Preparedness. In remarks during the opening ceremony, he emphasized the need for families to be prepared in the Golden State with its propensity for earthquakes, wildfire and more.
“Today, you’re going to take some great information back to your family so that you can be more prepared in the event that you get impacted by a disaster,” he said.
Evermary Hickey, PG&E’s director of Emergency Preparedness & Response, echoed those sentiments and talked about the company’s role for its customers.
“You want to make sure you have your own personal preparedness plan, and that it takes into account not just your family but your pets,” she said. “Think about how much food and water you’ll need. Have a communications plan, because communications is not often easy after an emergency or disaster and they drill.”
The free, family-friendly event featured face painting, snow cones and food trucks. An earthquake simulator, also known as a shaker truck, proved to be among the most popular attractions. Part of PG&E’s sponsorship, the shake truck rocks violently to simulate the feel of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.
More than a dozen PG&E volunteers staffed booths and talked to customers about safety and preparedness. PG&E provided information for its Spanish-speaking customers, including conducting an interview with Univision in Spanish about the need to prepare for emergencies.
One of them was Wendell Brown, who does locate and mark work out of PG&E’s Oakport Yard in Oakland. His message to customers was simple: Call 811 before any digging job.
“We want to keep the public safe. We want to let the public know to give 811 a call and we’ll come out and mark your utility services and keep everybody safe at the end of the day,” he said.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.