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Temple Hill in Oakland has been selected by the Emergency Management Board for the city of Oakland as a "Pre-Designated Disaster Area."

In the event of a disaster in the area, local emergency personnel will use the Inter-Stake Center and the parking facilities on Temple Hill as an emergency coordination center. The Inter-Stake Center is one of three buildings on Temple Hill. The other two are the Oakland Temple and the visitors center.The official designation of the site came in October during an all-day retreat for EMB members and city officials at the Inter-Stake Center.

The purpose of the retreat, hosted by Temple Hill Public Affairs, was to provide an opportunity for leaders from government; utilities; police and fire departments; media; service organizations, such as the Red Cross; and the extended community to work together on safety and emergency issues in a coordinated and cooperative manner. Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris welcomed the guests and spoke of the value of disaster preparedness.

Pres. Lorenzo Hoopes, director of Temple Hill Public Affairs, said of the retreat: "Those attending were some of the most influential people with the city of Oakland, and not all of them knew what was up there on the hill. Here was an opportunity to present Temple Hill in a favorable way. We've made many friends - ongoing friendships for a long time. The Church will now be thought of in a much better light.

"Representatives of government, industry, education, chambers of commerce, the city council, public utilities, AC Transit (Alameda County Transit) and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) were all there. It was a fortuitous opportunity for us to put our best foot forward."

Among several presentations during the retreat were updates on emergency operation centers, media access and interviewing techniques, and hazardous materials. In addition, the Emergency Management Board conducted an emergency scenario. The mock emergency brought emergency vehicles and personnel, and a fire department pumping system. Also, an Oakland Police Department helicopter demonstrated arrivals and lifts in a Temple Hill parking lot.

Plans for selecting pre-designated disaster areas began about three years ago while Oakland was still reeling from extensive 1989 earthquake damage and the devastating 1991 fire storm that ravaged a heavily populated section of Oakland's wooded hills. Mayor Harris formed the Emergency Management Board and appointed Henry Renteria as manager. Renteria began selecting a number of suitable emergency sites. Surmising that the facilities of the Inter-Stake Center would be ideal for the purpose, he met with Blair Egli, assistant director of Temple Hill Public Affairs, and then-Bishop Richard Wickel of the Oakland 3rd Ward, who is also a member of the Temple Hill Public Affairs Council, to consider the selection.

Pres. Hoopes and Brother Egli discussed the possibility with Elder Quentin Cook, a regional representative, and the area's stake presidents. They agreed to offer the Inter-Stake Center and parking facilities as an emergency site.

"We entered into a contract with EMB," Brother Egli explained. "There will be no liquor, no smoking, no drinking, no drugs used on the property. They are respectful of the Church's teachings."

Also included in the Temple Hill pre-designated disaster area is adjacent property owned by the Greek Orthodox Church.

As part of the October retreat, Relief Society sisters of the Oakland 3rd Ward provided a luncheon and morning and afternoon refreshments. Pres. Hoopes said those attending were warm in their praise of the hospitality.

"It was one of the most rewarding events that we've had on Temple Hill in a long time. What made it so was the enthusiasm that the participants showed for the facilities that were provided for them."