Earthquakes shake up social media

County has emergency plan in case of disaster

In January, emergency crews congregate after rescuing people caught in floods near Lovers Lane.

With the Calaveras fault running through Hollister and the San Andreas fault in San Benito County, it’s no surprise that every earthquake in the region creates aftershocks on social media.

Over the last month, five earthquakes have occurred in the nearby region spanning from the Pinnacles National Park up to Morgan Hill: two near Soledad, one near San Martin, one near San Juan Bautista and most recently one near Ridgemark.

The 2.6 quake near Ridgemark happened on Tuesday.

There have been 74 earthquakes in the region over the last year according to data from the United States Geological Survey. Compare that to the 54 that occurred in the region from 2015 to 2016.

Of those 74, the two highest recorded measured 3.6 on the Richter scale, one 16.15 miles northeast of Greenfield on November 9 last year and the other 3.1 miles south of Gilroy on February 26 earlier this year.

While local earthquakes have remained minor, the San Benito County Office of Emergency Services maintains best safety practices such as pre-designated evacuation areas in the event of a catastrophic disaster.

“The county has many pre-designated areas where people would be told to evacuate to or congregate at,” Emergency Services Manager Kevin O’Neill said. “However, we do not advertise these locations before a disaster as we do not want people congregating at a location that has not been inspected first and deemed to be safe.”

Supplying the community with essentials like food and water becomes challenging during emergency situations like a large earthquake, which makes the Hollister Municipal Airport a key regional tool for delivering aid.

“Additionally, it may be used as a staging area of incoming ground based resources such as the National Guard, which has an armory located at the airport,” O’Neill said.

The county coordinates efforts with Hollister and San Juan Bautista via an Emergency Operations Center and a pre-established system known as the Standardized Emergency Management System. Representatives from all jurisdictions and agencies work together in the emergency operations center to coordinate response and recovery activities.

Communicating with the public proves a bit more challenging.

“Communication is always the biggest challenge in an emergency situation,” O’Neill said. “In an emergency it would depend on the severity and whether internet is available. Information could be disseminated via reverse 911 (where the public receives a pre-recorded message on their landline phone or an alert on their cell phone), via social media on the OES Facebook and Twitter accounts and by working with our local media outlets.  If internet is not available we would resort to door to door announcements, community meetings, flyers and amateur radio operators to help spread the word.”

The San Benito County Office of Emergency Services encourages everyone to register their cell phones with reserve 911 vendor Code Red at: https://public.coderedweb.com/cne/en-US/218A80E36F49 and to follow OES on Facebook and Twitter.

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