Oakland's seen orange skies, weeks of smoke, and extreme wind in recent months. A survey asks residents for input on better preparing for those hazards. Credit: Sarah Belle Lin

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If a disaster were to strike tomorrow—a massive earthquake or fire—the amount of resulting damage would depend on how well-prepared we are. 

Oakland’s current disaster prevention plan was written in 2016. That may not sound like very long ago, but it was before California broke multiple wildfire records, before Oakland was cloaked in toxic smoke for several autumns in a row, and before the climate crisis turned the sky bright orange. Between pandemics, extreme wind events, and air pollution, every local resident is now well aware of the dangers we face, and that our local government must take steps to protect public health and safety.

The city is asking Oakland residents to fill out a 10-minute survey to help update the 2016-2021 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan update, which will last until 2025, is a requirement to continue receiving federal emergency funding. The Oakland Fire Department is overseeing the update process.

The survey asks residents what sort of information has been most helpful during past disasters, what steps you’ve taken to prepare your household for possible hazards, challenges you’ve encountered, and which hazards concern you the most. It does not ask for your name or contact information. The survey is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

At the very least, it’s a reminder to finally get that earthquake kit together.

Members of the public will be able to learn more and weigh in at meetings this spring before the final draft of the plan is adopted, according to the city. 

You can sign up for AC Alert to get calls, texts, or emails about local emergencies.

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Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie grew up in Berkeley and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.