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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hear That Siren? Did Your Train Stop? It was the 'Shake-Out' Freak-Out.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 11:29 AM

click to enlarge Fiona Ma is into it - FIONA MA
  • Fiona Ma
  • Fiona Ma is into it

San Franciscans without clock or calendar can set their internal timing devices by the weekly emergency sirens, which test every Tuesday at noon. Other than the Tuesday test, these blare only when an earthquake or other disaster is at hand (just having your home or office's foundation rattle and crumble is not enough of an indicator).

But this morning at 10:21 a.m., the sirens blared. And all BART trains stopped dead in their tracks. Terrorists? Earthquake? Facebook AND Twitter offline at the same time? None of the above: just the Great California Shake-Out, and some confused commuters.

"Just took part in statewide quake drill," tweeted Doug Sovern, at @SovernNation. "BART train stopped for 1 minute. Confused passengers didn't understand announcement."

click to enlarge 71737_460993486784_672951784_5472332_3117536_n.jpg

Never one to be left out, State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma got into the action, as the photo from her Facebook feed proves. Mayor Gavin Newsom, too, participated, visiting a Richmond District school for the duck-and-cover occasion. Pop quiz: when was the last time Gavin visited the west side of town?

Our politicians were into it, but commuters remained nonplussed.

"We just had an earthquake drill on bart...aka we stopped on the middle of the track," tweeted Lauren Brummett, @Rexluna108. "Yay for preparedness?"

Yay for memories, mostly. "The event is designed to encourage people to participate in earthquake drills on the 142nd anniversary of the last major quake to shake the Hayward fault," BART spokesman Linton Johnson wrote in a press release. "That 6.8 magnitude earthquake occurred on October 21, 1868."

A good deal of the BART system is situated directly above the Hayward fault, which is probably the one most likely to pop next. What does one do if one is stuck on a BART train during an earthquake? BART didn't say.

So whatever you did today during 10:21 a.m., do it again when the actual Big One hits. Just do it better.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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