Are you prepared for “The Big One?”
That’s one question representatives from Los Angeles County’s Office of Emergency Management were asking Santa Clarita residents at their Disaster Preparedness Seminar and Expo.
Held at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, the Expo was part of National Preparedness Month activities in Los Angeles which began six years ago.
Attendees were educated on how to prepare and how to be safe during the next disaster or emergency.
“We’re moving from just passing out information to actionable steps in the community,” said Ken Kondo, emergency program manager and public information officer for the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management. “It’s all about having a plan and having communication with family when a disaster strikes.”
Presented by the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office of Emergency Management and the Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services, the Expo featured representatives from the the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, California’s Department of Insurance, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Red Cross.
Kathleen Newton of the Los Angeles County Community and Senior Services said the organizations spent three months planning the event and invited vendors from county departments that do work in emergency situations.
“Disaster Man” Kondo shared a slideshow with the history of natural disasters and adverse weather in L.A. County from the 1857 7.9-magnitude Fort Tejon Earthquake to the 2016 El Nino storm.
Kondo said everything from tornados, hailstorms, wind storms, snowfall, rainfalls, earthquakes, fires, dam collapses and tsunamis have hit the area and could strike again.
“We live in a basin with mountains, the ocean and desert,” he said. “We have all kinds of geographical areas that have their own disasters.”
Jeanne O’Donnell, program manager at the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office of Emergency Management, shared the county’s Five Step Neighborhood Action Kit with attendees.
“The reason you want to have a plan is because something is going to go wrong and you need to be prepared,” she said. “We’re trying to get you to think about your plan and if it is realistic.”
The five-step plan includes: define your area, recruit leaders and participants, scout your neighborhood, build your team and plan your approach. Its goal is to not only focus on personal preparedness, but also community preparedness.
According to O’Donnell, 70 percent to 95 percent of rescues during a disaster come down to the help of a neighbor – not rescue personnel.
The expo also included presentations from Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Keith Mora on fall and winter preparedness in burn areas and from Gary Guo and Mike Miranda of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works on preparing for debris and mud flows.
Kondo said disaster will always strike, but he wants residents to be prepared for whatever may come.
“Sadly enough, every time I do this seminar expo something happens,” he said. “We want to make sure you’re ready, have a plan and are safe.”
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