Officials respond to question of earthquake preparedness

The Daily Californian’s Nov. 1 editorial, “Finding Fault,” left an inaccurate impression about campus efforts to prepare for earthquakes and educate the campus community about valuable resources that will help them plan for such an event.

For example, since the launch of the SAFER program in 1997, the campus has focused its capital resources on improving the seismic safety of campus facilities:

Over 3.5 million square feet of campus space has been strengthened. To give you an idea of how much that is, Barrows Hall — an eight-story classroom and office building — is just over 198,000 gross square feet.

The SAFER program found that 27 percent of campus square footage was rated Poor or Very Poor, based on the UC Regents’ rating system. To date, approximately 70 percent of that square footage has been improved to a rating of Good.

The campus has committed to continuing progress in strengthening all its facilities. Retrofit of the Greek Theater is scheduled to begin in mid-November, and demolition of Campbell Hall is scheduled to start in the spring.

All campus housing buildings are rated Fair or Good. All of the buildings rated Fair are at the Clark Kerr Campus. For definitions of the ratings, please see berkeley.edu/administration/facilities/safer/findings.html.

All new students are provided a copy of Resource (also at resource.berkeley.edu), which includes information on how to prepare for an earthquake.

Campus residence halls conduct fire/emergency drills each semester.

Each campus building has signs posted at exits with information on what to do in an emergency as well as evacuation procedures and assembly areas.

The campus and city of Berkeley Alerting and Warning System sirens are tested at noon on the first Wednesday of each month.

WarnMe is an alerting and warning system for the campus. All students are encouraged to sign up; more information can be found at warnme.berkeley.edu.

Extensive information and detail about campus disaster response plans and how to prepare for an earthquake can be found online at the Office of Emergency Preparedness website at oep.berkeley.edu.

We encourage everyone to sign up for WarnMe and visit the various web sites listed here to learn more about what they can do to remain safe.

— Stephen Stoll, campus director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness; and Christine Shaff, communications director for Facilities Services