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Wildfire & Disaster Preparedeness

The unincorporated Midcoast of San Mateo County is unprepared for a major disaster. Recent devastating wildfires in California and the March 2019 Highway 1 closure of the Lantos Tunnel at Devil’s Slide highlight the need to critically review and update our disaster preparedness systems and improve our readiness. 

Recently updated state maps indicate significant threats for both wildfires and earthquakes in our area, and the threat of tsunamis is ever-present. With mountains and ocean surrounding us and only one road in, through and out, our ability to respond and/or evacuate in the event of a major disaster will be a challenge. It is imperative that we not only understand the different types of threats we face, but that we know what to do in each case.

Although recent focus on disaster preparedness statewide and locally is intensifying, we still have a long way to go in establishing the necessary plans, facilities and personnel to adequately deal with a major disaster on the Midcoast (Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton-by-the-Sea, Miramar). Adequate preparation could well make the difference in our ability to survive and recover.

CPUC Fire Threat Map 2018 final.JPG

The San Mateo County Coast is surrounded by Tier 2 (Elevated) and Tier 3 (Extreme) Fire Threat areas.

For a brief overview of the significant risks of natural disasters on the Midcoast, the readiness and ability of our responsible agencies and our community to respond, contact information and resource links, see our Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Report.

  • How will our different communities coordinate efforts?

  • How will tourists, visitors and residents be informed?

  • How and where will tourists, visitors and residents access urgent care and medical treatment?

  • What is the impact of additional build-out on level of risk?

  • How is the County’s Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan addressing emergency concerns in the proposed road improvements?

There is just one road in, through, and out of the coast

Our Recommendations:
for Community Members

  • Sign up for San Mateo County Alerts and PG&E Outage Alerts.

  • Keep a battery-operated radio and fresh batteries available. Tune to KHMB (100.9 FM, 1710 AM) for disaster information.

  • To prepare for a wildfire, residents should create a “defensible space” around their property by removing dead trees, plants, weeds, shrubs and other combustible materials.

  • Review the CEC disaster prep page or the Sheriffs OES disaster prep page to get the latest information on disaster preparedness.

  • Consider joining CERT or the Sheriffs OES as a volunteer to assist first responders and continue to support your community after a disaster.

  • Express your concerns to state, county and local leaders and insist that they continue to pursue effective improvements to our disaster readiness.

Our Recommendations:
for Community Leaders

  • San Mateo County should appoint a Fire Prevention and Disaster Preparedness Program Manager to manage, coordinate and oversee the several agencies which will be needed to research, prioritize, and resolve Fire Prevention and Disaster Preparedness issues for the unincorporated areas of the County.

  • The Midcoast Community Council (MCC) should take a lead role in assessing, prioritizing and communicating, with the assigned County Program Manager, the MidCoast community concerns and action items.

  • The Fire Prevention and Disaster Preparedness Program should begin with an expert assessment of the risks identified by residents, the MCC and the County, followed by a prioritization of the issues, creation and funding of relevant projects and assignment of responsibilities.

  • The County’s Program Manager should present project plans and regular updates to the MCC.

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