City takes measures to prepare for disaster
Natural disasters occur all over the world. Most recently, the United States was affected by Superstorm Sandy, which, according to CNN, killed over 100 people and left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. During times like these, many wonder how prepared they would be in the event of a local natural disaster.
The city of Santa Monica has many resources available to assist in disaster preparedness.
Paul Weinberg, emergency services coordinator for the city’s Office of Emergency Management, is proud of the recent advancements in the city’s disaster plans.
“The most significant measure is the creation of the Office of Emergency Management 18 months ago,” says Weinberg. “Also, the creation of CERT has made a tremendous difference. We now have 50 trained members.”
CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. The program offers a federally recognized training course taught by local public safety personnel and first responders.
“CERT is open to anyone living or working in Santa Monica, and it’s free,” says Weinberg.
Weinberg states that he works with Sergeant Jere Romano of the Santa Monica College Police Department in providing tools to train faculty members on campus.
The OEM encourages everyone to prepare for a disaster before it is too late.
“It’s important to get information out to the community,” says Weinberg. “We can’t wait for a disaster to happen. We need to be prepared and trained.”
The American Red Cross echoes that statement.
“First responders will be overwhelmed,” says Monica Diaz, director of communications for the Red Cross, Los Angeles. “We’re really trying to get people to prepare themselves to be on their own for at least three days.”
Diaz believes students should be proactive in preparing for an earthquake.
“I think they should make it a habit to carry some bottles of water and a granola bar in their backpacks,” she says.
“If you have a car, it would be really smart to carry a pair of tennis shoes in your car,” says Diaz. “You might not be able to drive. You might have to walk it.”
It is also very important to know what disasters are possible, and the impact they would have on day-to-day life.
“It will be the worst natural disaster in the history of the world by far,” says SMC environmental studies professor, William Selby, referring to the earthquake also known as the “big one” that is expected to occur at any moment.
“The good news is the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault is 30 miles away,” says Selby. “The bad news is it’s been locked since 1857.”
Selby also says that through geological and seismological exploration, the statistics show that an earthquake with an eight magnitude occurs in this area approximately every 130 to 180 years, with the last “big one” occurring in 1857.
“The Northridge quake shook for about 20 seconds and was more localized,” says Selby. “This earthquake is going to last a minute and affect 20 million people.”
There are important things to remember once the earth starts shaking.
Selby suggests staying inside and getting under something sturdy like a desk or table. He says that he doesn’t know where the “myth of standing in a doorway” came from, but that it is false, and says that those who do that or run outside would likely be injured or killed.
“It’s most important that people are prepared and know what to do,” says Selby.
He says the aftereffects of this earthquake will be total destruction of the city’s infrastructure.
“It will be many, many years before we recover,” says Selby.
The common thread in preparing for natural disaster is just that, to be prepared.
“After a disaster happens, we want to live and function comfortably,” says Weinberg. “That’s why it’s important to be prepared.”
For more information on disaster preparedness, visit preparesocal.org, or the Santa Monica OEM’s website at http://www.smgov.net/departments/oem/.