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PREPARING FOR WORST

Floods, quakes & derailments

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PREPARING FOR WORST

Flooding along the San Joaquin River.

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POSTED October 16, 2017 1:49 a.m.

As part of ongoing disaster preparedness drills on Thursday at 3:19 p.m. the city will pretend that an “earthquake” will cause the collapse of the Manteca Parks & Recreation building housing a preschool program .

While the  scenario is part of a statewide earthquake drill and preparedness exercise dubbed “The Great California ShakeOut” that is expected to involve 9 million people, it is also part of an ongoing effort by Manteca authorities to keep first responders and city personnel tuned into what they need to do when disasters of any type strike the city.

Being prepared for the worst  is why the Manteca Fire Department  put together an exhaustive 239-page City of Manteca Emergency Operations Plan that the Manteca City Council is being asked to ratify when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

The document is designed to address everything from emergency command, how and when the public is alerted and personnel summoned  and the protocols for handling various situations to mutual aid and coordinating with state and federal resources. It also designates the line of succession for all department heads allowing for the most seamless and quickiest response possible.

Manteca Fire Battalion Chief Dave Marques will make a power point presentation Tuesday to provide an overall  view of the plan.

The most probable large scale event expected in Manteca is a flood while derailments and earthquakes are deemed the next most likely disasters.

In the past 30 years Manteca has dealt with a major flood and a serious derailment.

The 1991 flood threat came after levees along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus rivers failed in  11 places. For a 48-hour period the cross or dry levee south of Woodward Avenue protecting Manteca was considered by the State Office of Emergency Services touch and go in terms of its ability to hold. Had it failed 26 years ago, flooding would have been minimal within the city. State officials anticipated perhaps several hundred homes generally southwest of Sierra High could be hit with up to six inches of spreading  flood water. A number of scattered homes  that were then along the Airport Way corridor as well as the city’s wastewater treatment plant also would have had to deal with floodwaters as well.

The OES had ordered the McKinley Avenue underpass plugged with dirt covered with plastic tarp and weighed down so the 120 Bypass could serve as an emergency levee if the worst happened.

Since then  hundreds of homes have been build south of the 120 Bypass as well as along the Airport Way corridor. In addition  commercial development such as the Stadium Retail Center has been put in place along with the Big League Dreams sports complex.

Historically, there have been 11 different times levees have failed southwest of Manteca along the two rivers since 1928.

The train derailment in the late 1980s on the tracks along Moffat Boulevard near Manteca High happened in heavy fog on a Sunday. It included several tankers with highly toxic chemicals. It forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.

In recent years the city has stepped up its game in terms of being prepared for an emergency.

In 2014 a committee of 10 employees was formed to prepare the city for a large scale disaster and how it would be handled.

The members all attended a week-long training program at the California Specialized Training Institute.

The City Council also approved a five-year lease in the office building complex at 201 Cherry Lane that also houses municipal operations such as human resources to serve as an emergency operations center.

Two year ago the city received a $34,000 grant from the Department of Water Resources to update the municipal emergency operations plan.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

 

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