How A Low-Income San Francisco Neighborhood Is Building A Culture Of Disaster Preparedness

Justin Gerdes | The Atlantic Cities | May 7, 2014

Everyone here assumes that an earthquake will hit this city hard some day, thanks to the geologic fault line that runs below it. But G.L. Hodge is not afraid. Hodge has a talent for being where he’s needed during a crisis. During the last big quake to rattle the San Francisco Bay area in 1989, Hodge was the manager of a local Kmart store across the bay in the town of Fremont. He made sure that his store was one of the first in the area to re-open after the quake, distributing much-needed supplies to the community.

Two-and-a-half years later, Hodge had moved to Los Angeles to manage another Kmart in Compton. When riots broke out after police officers were acquitted in a racially charged beating, Hodge’s store was one of the few in the neighborhood not to be looted. The National Guard used it as a command center.

“I’ve been dealing with these kind of situations for a long time,” Hodge says. As a retail store manager, Hodge had to be prepared for anything. Over the years, he also picked up disaster preparedness tips from his wife, a San Francisco firefighter...