By: Phil Ting

After watching the devastating coverage of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, the NYT piece For Years, Warnings That It Could Happen Here was perhaps the eeriest read. After years of climate scientists and city planners laying out the potential dangers, their predictions became reality: New York’s subway system flooded, electrical equipment was submerged, and some people even lost their lives. After watching the damage unfold, the Bay Area needs to ask itself: Are we ready?

The bad news, of course, is that we are in a geographic region prone to disaster. We sit atop fault lines, we are on the coast, and many hillsides throughout our area are unstable. The good news is that we are home to several forward-looking groups who have begun to rethink disaster preparedness and boost engagement. The SF Department of Emergency Management recently gamified the nagging task of making a plan and readying yourself for an emergency. And AlertSF, a text-based notification system for San Franciscans (and visiting tourists), will keep registrants posted on everything from flood and tsunami warnings to emergencies disrupting traffic.

We won’t be able to prevent the next disaster, and we may not even be able to predict it. But with good government groups and citizens working together, we can at least improve our chances of staying safe.