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Centennial Commemoration of the Big One Begins

Walgreen's makes stocking home emergency kits easier

City disaster preparedness chief Annemarie Conroy joins Mayor Newsom
at Richmond District Walgreen's for unveiling of in-store emergency kit list
and products. Walgreen's District Manager Dave Devencenzi seen at center.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

April 1, 2006

This April begins as the month of the San Francisco Great Quake Centennial with private and public sectors geared up for exhibitions, commemoration, and do it now preparation for the next Big One.

Both sectors closed ranks Friday to make it easier for residents to stock home Emergency Preparedness Kits at a nearby Walgreen's.

Shoppers now are greeted at all 180 Northern California Walgreen's Stores with an in-store display of a "Disaster Supply Shopping List" and listed items for purchase.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Office of Emergency Services (OES) director Annemarie Conroy were on hand at the Ninth and Clement Streets Walgreen's to praise the joint effort.

"Walgreen's, thank you for this partnership," offered Newsom.

"I think it is incredibly important for everybody to take it upon themselves to... make sure they are prepared for a catastrophic event.

"I would challenge other businesses - if you think you've got a good idea for your businesses and it's going to help the City and its taxpayers - we're ready to do a partnership.

"But, you know what, it took Walgreen's to step up."

Walgreen's Western District Manager Dave Devencenzi recalled past community service during catastrophes.

"For Walgreen's, being part of the community is really nothing new," Devencenzi stated.

"Especially in the earthquake of 1989 and being on there in the front lines in the battle against AIDS for the past 20 years.

"A recent example is our response in New Orleans with Katrina.

"We donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in health products and a lot of items to help with the cleanup afterwards.

"We gave away $9 million worth of prescriptions to people in the area who did not have any means to pay us for those prescriptions.

"We also raised more than $2 million for the American Red Cross and our employees also responded in a very amazing way.

"The company rent 50 RVs and drove them down to New Orleans for employees who didn't have any place to live.

"We also asked our employees throughout the country to travel to the New Orleans area to help provide quality medical service to customers."

Newsom announced home emergency kits will be provided to low-income San Franciscans through private and City funding.

"The areas where we are weakest in disseminating information are in the low-income areas of San Francisco.

"They don't have enough money to put any of these kits together and we've got to make sure that we provide those resources so that those people have those emergency kits in their homes.

"What we're doing through the good work of Annemarie Conroy is raising money privately, as well as subsidizing dollars publicly, to make sure that we're providing emergency ready kits in low-income communities."

Conroy called for citizens to join the partnership.

"The citizens of San Francisco need to be our partners," Conroy urged.

"They need to be prepared. They need to take responsibility for being prepared, for being on their own for a minimum of three days.

"It's very simple. The 72hours.org website has made it easy with the shopping list. You can get on that website and really learn everything you need to know - the essentials - for being prepared after a major event."

The website has received more than 250,000 hits, Newsom pointed out. Multi-language brochures of website content may be ordered by calling (415) 558-2700, Conroy added.

Newsom instructs the Sentinel to keep questions on-topic.
(SENTINEL EXCLUSIVE: Newsom buys his hair gel at Walgreen's
but declines to name brand.)

Some OES budget funds have not yet been spent due to their allocation to other agencies from OES, and allocation for scheduled events and training in the future, continued Conroy.

"Golden Guardian, which is set in November, is a example of that. San Francisco will be the host city of Golden Guardian who that will be a significant full-scale exercise which is very expensive.

"These dollars are allocated to major departments so it is their allocation. They're looking at training. They're looking at purchasing.

"Another example is hazardous materials fire trucks. It takes a long time to spec it out. The bidding process takes a long time. Everyone in the country is ordering them so they are on back-order.

"San Francisco has received $83 million total in allocation of Homeland Security dollars.

"For 2005, $11 million was placed on reserve -- $5 million was taken off of reserve this week."

Emergency pet shelters and pet care concerned one Richmond District resident.

Nearby resident Daneen Akres is concerned for pets during an emergency

"I'm so glad you asked that," responded Conroy.

"It's a big issue. People will not evacuate if they cannot take their pets.

"In all of the site studies that are being done to shelter 50,000 San Franciscans in an emergency we're looking at kennels that would be next door. We also encourage people to have their pets microchiped."

For more detail on emergency planning for pets, click here.

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