Saturday evacuation drill the first of its kind in the East Bay

ByLeslie Brinkley via KGO logo
Saturday, December 15, 2018
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The town of Moraga is going to be the first to hold a live evacuation drill which will close a major thoroughfare to traffic early tomorrow morning.

MORAGA, Calif. (KGO) -- On the heels of so many deadly and devastating fires, the town of Moraga in the East Bay is going to be the first to hold a live evacuation drill. That drill will close a major thoroughfare to traffic early Saturday morning.

Residents of the Moraga Country club area already know they are going to get a phone call at 7:00 a.m. Saturday telling them to evacuate. They're supposed to knock on neighbors' doors and get in their cars and drive out via Moraga Way as a drill.

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Moraga's police chief says they've separated the town into 23 zones. For one of those zones, the one that encompasses Moraga Country club, Saturday 7:00 a.m. will be show time.

Residents of over 500 homes will be directed to evacuate on St Andrews Drive and onto Moraga Way toward highway 24. The usually busy two-way road is one of the few leading out of town. It will become a one-way evacuation route between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. with all westbound traffic. The signs are up warning of the eastbound closure for this drill.

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Moraga residents say it's a good idea to have a live evacuation drill since there are few routes out of this suburban area surrounded by open space.

Resident Kristen Beckwith said, "I think it's super important. If we haven't learned anything from what happened in Paradise and Napa, it would be silly not to prepare in a town that's very similar."

Jon King, Moraga's Police Chief, said, "One of the things we'll be doing in the exercise tomorrow is we'll be doing the evacuation at 20 mph. When a road is that choked with people we have to work together. Because one accident could tie that street up and block hundreds of others from being able to evacuate."

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Lessons learned Saturday will be applied to other drills ahead in other zones. There will be 20 other agencies coming to watch it all in live action to eventually replicate it in their own communities. Orinda is looking at doing a drill next spring.

The chief said so far only 10 to 20-percent of residents are opting out. The rest are ready for their early wake-up call to see what it's like to evacuate.