Officials reassure San Bruno residents
September 13, 2010 10:26 PM
Federal and state officials informed residents of San Bruno, Calif., of how they will assess damage and assist those who were affected by the high-pressure gas line explosion that destroyed 37 homes.
During a 8 p.m. press conference at the Church of the Highlands Sept. 13, officials also discussed the need to rally around the community.
"(We will) do whatever we can to make things work for all of us," said California State Sen. Leland Yee, trying to reassure the residents of the devastated San Bruno neighborhood. "It's going to take quite some time for all of us to heal."
Residents were also informed of a 10-point checklist to make sure the investigation of pipelines is successful. The most important points on the list are reducing gas pressure and conducting inspections across California, specifically 1,021 miles of pipeline that stretch through residential and commercial areas classified as three and four, said Richard W. Clark, Consumer Protection and Safety Division director for the California Public Utilities Commission.
Residents were also informed by Federal Emergency Management Agency Individual Assistance Branch Chief Michael Haralambakis that a preliminary damage assessment is being used as a basis for an emergency declaration. An assessment and verification of damage must be completed to determine a federal disaster declaration.
Yee said that the work is "going to be a laborious process to find exactly what happened."
He empathized with the families and said that those working to help the families affected by the disaster and the city of San Bruno were "not going to rest until that final report" of what happened is released.
Jerry Hill echoed the same sentiment. He said that his top legislation would be to examine public utilities regulations and replace old pipes. He also noted that the pipes that exploded were more than 50 years old. "(We need to) move forward and pick up the pieces of San Bruno."
The audience was encouraged to submit questions on forms that were made available to them on the pews. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) proctored the discussion.
During the round of questions, representatives from Pacific, Gas and Electric, FEMA, and CPUC took the time to answer questions.
"We'll do whatever it takes to rebuild this community," a PG&E representative said.
It could be a year to 14 months before the rebuilding effort of the town starts to take shape, Clark said. Any relevant information will be made public.
Other questions concerning the response time and pipe issues were addressed as well.
Although a critical assessment of the damage was the focal point of the event, officials also recognized the cohesiveness of the community.
Speier said: "The city of San Bruno is not going to abandon anyone."
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