Getting ready for tomorrow’s emergency today 

Friday marks the 108th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. As we commemorate this date in history, we are reminded of how San Francisco came together as a community, as one city, to recover, rebuild and re-imagine our beautiful city that was ravaged by fire.

To make sure a devastating fire like this never happened again, San Francisco leaders built an Emergency Firefighting Water System in 1913, on top of the domestic water supply system, which has faithfully protected our city to this day. In fact, San Francisco remains one of the few cities in the world with such a unique backup supply.

Last month, the five-alarm Mission Bay fire demonstrated the life-saving importance of this high-pressure water system. First responders relied on this supply to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes and businesses.

The City has invested millions through the 2010 Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond to strengthen this water system by adding underground storage tanks and upgrading existing pipes, pump stations and facilities. We are more resilient than ever, but more work is needed. This June, we are asking voters to approve Proposition A, an investment that will further expand the coverage of this vital system for more city neighborhoods.

And as we build and prepare for the future, we have a wealth of lessons learned from the past. Knowing what to do before, during and after a disaster will help us take care of ourselves, our families and our neighborhoods, and will help us get San Francisco back on its feet faster.

Our city has many resources to help residents and businesses prepare. is San Francisco’s new hub for emergency preparedness, with useful information about what to do during an emergency. We have resources to help connect neighborhoods and communities, and simple guides to help everyone get prepared. also features a section with official updates, crowd-sourced reports and a crisis map to navigate city resources during an emergency. In short, helps San Francisco become a more resilient city, and I encourage you and your families to visit the website to get ready today.

I have no doubt the community preparedness we are doing now, coupled with the investment we are making to upgrade our Emergency Firefighting Water System and improve the seismic reliability of our city buildings, will be a key to our response and recovery when another major emergency occurs. The 108th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fire reminds us that we can bounce back from anything if we work together. I encourage everyone to commemorate this year by getting prepared and by supporting the ongoing efforts to protect the place we all call home.

Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco.

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