Councilmember Susan Wengraf
Extreme Conditions
Red Flag and High Wind Warnings

October 23, 2020
Dear Neighbors,

==We have received official notification from the City of Berkeley that the Berkeley Hills are expecting an extreme weather event starting on Sunday afternoon at 11am and going through to Monday morning at 10am.

==The "20 year wind event" will create extreme fire danger due to high winds, very low humidity and dry vegetation.

==Consistent strong winds of 25-35 mph are expected throughout the event, with stronger gusts forecast to reach 60-70 mph for the highest peaks of the North and East Bay Hills, through Monday morning. These strong winds will create critical fire weather conditions and the potential for downed trees and power lines.

  • The Berkeley Fire Department is mobilizing and upstaffing during this event, with Engine companies conducting roving patrols. Starting Sunday at 8AM, there will also be multiple pre-positioned Strike Teams made up of fire agencies from multiple jurisdictions staging throughout Alameda County ready to respond in the event of a fire incident. Extra engines will be deployed to Station 7 on Shasta Rd.

  • The Berkeley Police Department has assigned additional resources to patrol areas. In collaboration with Oakland, citations will be issued for vehicles parked illegally in the High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, particularly along Grizzly Peak. East Bay Regional Parks will be closed. Anyone entering the parks will be subject to citation and arrest.

  • Public Works crews and Forestry staff stand ready to respond to incidents of downed trees or large limbs blocking streets or rights of way.

  • At the time of this writing, PG&E has indicated that Panoramic Hill and the Claremont area will be impacted by Public Safety Power Shut-offs. Other areas may be impacted later. You can check to see if your address will be affected here. If there is a power outage, PG&E will take the lead on making contact with all Medical Baseline customers. They do so by contacting them in advance of the outage by phone. In the event that they cannot reach the customer by phone, they have crews in the field knocking on residents’ doors.

  • Because fires are unpredictable, first responders can only announce safe evacuation locations once a fire starts and they know what areas are at risk. Make a plan in advance to get down from the hills an keep phones and radios ready to receive instructions about where to go.


==By Sunday morning, please take these crucial steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Sign up for AC alert.
  • Bring in all patio and yard furniture. Patio umbrellas can become projectiles. Be sure to lie them flat and close them securely.
  • Close all skylights and windows.
  • Check your Go-Bags for updated medicines and important documents.
  • Fill your fuel tank to at least half full.
  • Park your car in your garage or driveway facing out. Make sure you know how to open your garage door manually. If you park on the street, park facing downhill and make sure there is 14ft clearance on the street for Emergency Responders.
  • If you have mobility challenges or live with someone who needs extra help, consider sleeping on the ground floor or going to family, friends, or a hotel for Sunday night. Discounted rates are available at local hotels.
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged. Keep it on at night and turn up the volume, in case an emergency message comes while you are asleep.
  • Check the batteries for your portable radio. Keep it tuned to 1610 AM, the Berkeley emergency station.
  • Think about two routes out of your neighborhood.
  • If you receive a notification to evacuate, please leave your home. Do not procrastinate.
  • Check on your neighbors. Carpool, if possible.
  • The Police will give you instructions on where to go. If you do not receive a directive, drive down to the Marina, to Golden Gate Fields, to Costco in Richmond or to one of the shopping centers in Emeryville. Wait for further instructions.
  • If you are walking or biking, try to get down the hill to either the downtown or to King Middle School.
  • If you are able, officials are suggesting that you may want to leave early and spend the night at a hotel. This is the safest course of action.

Is Your GO-BAG Ready?
==Now is the time to create a go-bag or refresh the one you already have. Here are my suggestions for what to include. These recommendations are based on research and consultation with emergency preparedness experts. That said, feel free to customize these ideas to your own personal needs.

==Put these items in a backpack or duffel bag with a shoulder strap.

==Keep your Go-Bag(s) in an easily accessed location - an entry-hall closet or a garage.

==You could also keep them outside your home in a waterproof box or trash can with a strapped lid.

==Make sure each bag has a tag with your name and address.

==It is also a good idea to have emergency Go-Bags in your vehicle and at work.

==Remember that you may be walking or running with this bag, so do not make it too heavy.
  • Battery-powered small AM/FM radio, extra batteries
  • LED flashlight and headlamp, extra batteries
  • Chargers and power banks for cell phones
  • N95 mask, cotton bandana, goggles, work gloves and hat
  • Change of clothing (cotton preferred)
  • Spare eyeglasses/contact lenses
  • Medications, personal supplies
  • Toiletry and sanitation items
  • Bottle of Water, non-perishable energy bars and snacks
  • First aid kit, whistle, pocket knife,
  • Roll of duct tape, emergency blanket
  • Extra car and house keys, cash (small bills)
  • Paper, pencils, permanent marker
  • Emergency phone list and contacts
  • Copies of important documents; driver’s license for birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, prescriptions
==If you assemble your go-bag this week, you will be one step closer to being prepared to evacuate in the event of a threatening wildfire or other disaster.

==The advice of the Fire Department is: DO NOT WEAR AN N95 MASK WHEN EVACUATING. WEAR A BANDANA.

==You can wear the N95 after you have evacuated when smoke particulates are polluting the air, but wearing an N95 when you are either walking fast or running is not recommended.

==Check out the City's Wildfire Evacuation page for more information.
Public Safety Power Shut-Offs
==PG&E claims that it may be necessary to turn off your electricity to keep you safe from the risk of wildfire during extreme weather events. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). They promise to provide notifications two days in advance, then one day in advance, and right before they turn off your power. You will be notified through calls, texts and emails. I will also try to notify you in a timely way.

==Factors that PG&E considers when they are making their decision:

  • A red flag warning called by the National weather Service
  • Low humidity levels
  • Sustained winds of above 25 mph in the forecast
  • Very dry ground fuel
  • On the ground, real time observations

==You can find out more here.

==When you get notification, use that time to prepare for being without power. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a supply of batteries for my radio and devices?
  • Do I have medications that need refrigeration?
  • Do I use medical devices that rely on electricity?
  • If power goes out, do I know how to open the garage door manually?
  • Have I charged up all my devices like cell phones and laptops?
  • Do I have any neighbors with a generator or battery supply that I can access?
  • Do I have enough LED lanterns to provide sufficient light? DO NOT USE CANDLES for light.
  • Do I have a battery operated radio to receive news and updates?
Emergency Notifications
==AC Alert will be Berkeley's primary emergency alerting system for the public. It is one of the tools the City of Berkeley uses to communicate emergency information and instructions to the community. AC Alert can send:
  • Voice alerts to phones
  • SMS text messages
  • Email
  • TTY/TDD messages
   Listed AT&T "land lines" are automatically included to receive voice messages from AC Alert for emergency warnings. Community members must sign up to receive voice or text alerts on cell phones, VoIP phones, unlisted phones, TTY/TDDs or through email.

   If you want to receive emergency alerts and updates, sign up for AC Alert.
  • Need a new refuse can?
  • Have a favorite pothole you want filled?
  • Want to report illegal dumping?

CALL 311
Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council District 6
(510) 981-7160