Are you ready if an earthquake rocks California?
In 1994, many Santa Clarita residents had the misfortune of experiencing the Northridge earthquake.
“I can sum it up in two words: ‘Sweet Lord.’ The ’94 quake made the ’71 quake look like child’s play… I will never forget the ’94 quake,” said Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar, in a previous interview with The Signal.
However, the occasional, minor earthquakes that shake the city remind residents that at any moment, disaster could strike again.
“For another earthquake, fire, severe weather, power outage you need to be prepared in the same way,” said the city’s Emergency Services Supervisor, Donna Nuzzi. “You have to have stuff in place.”
Should disaster strike, city officials are committed to coordinating with appropriate federal, state, other local government agencies as well as applicable segments of private sector entities and volunteer agencies, according to the city’s website.
“I want to make sure she gets a lot of credit,” said Emily Montanez, senior program manager of the L.A. County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), about Nuzzi. “I think that Santa Clarita is a pretty prepared area because of the city’s efforts.”
One way city officials have worked with local agencies is through the Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) sessions, designed to help families, neighborhoods, schools and businesses prepare for effective disaster/emergency response through training and preplanning, according to city officials.
“Part of being prepared is knowing who your partners are,” said Nuzzi about city and citizen preparedness efforts. “It’s a part of looking out for each other that way.”
Local and county officials do their part to ensure that communities can mobilize to meet the demands of any disaster with the help of city resources, according to county officials.
“We’re engaging with the fire department, with public works, with the sheriff, and other county departments, sort of that team approach that we talk about,” Montanez said, referring to one of the county’s goal to “establish a highly nimble, team-based organization designed to meet increased emergency preparedness responsibilities.”
Another priority the city of Santa Clarita has during times of emergency is preparing and disseminating emergency public information to inform, alert and warn the public.
The city’s official “Emergency Management” webpage at santa-clarita.com
has a multitude of links to resources that residents can use to stay informed during times of emergency, such as text alerts, email alerts, and the city’s emergency updates blog.
“All the information is there, you just have to click on it,” Nuzzi said.
The city’s website also offers a variety of resources that residents can use before and after an emergency.
In terms of preparation, city and county officials both recommend having a plan and making connections.
“Your family needs to know, if you’re separated, what’s your reunification plan? Do you have a phone? Do you have a backup charger?… Do you have water in place?” Nuzzi said, adding that even the city has precautionary measures set in place for the continuance of government during times of emergency.
“If our primary site is not viable, then we have a secondary site,” said Nuzzi referring to the city’s emergency operation center. “The same thing for technology, we have satellite phones, we have internet satellite capabilities, we have multiple ways that we’re going to try to communicate if one fails.”
Montanez also weighed in on how what she believes are crucial aspects of a citizen’s plan.
“I say start small. I think that the best things that residents can do is look at their homes. What’s surrounding their homes? What are some of the threats, hazards?” said Montanez. “Then, start expanding that you know, what do your neighbors do… (Neighbors) are assets when there’s a disaster, because you guys are going to be helping each other. Government services are going to be maxed out, and I think it’s really critical that the neighbor to neighbor approach is definitely the best start.”
The city and the county both have resources lined up to help residents during any emergency such as an earthquake. However, the best way to ensure the safety of oneself and one’s family, business and community is to prepare for an earthquake before “the next big one.
–Secure items, such as televisions, and objects that hang on walls.
–Practice “Drop, Cover, then Hold On” drills with family and coworkers.
–Create a family emergency communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated.
–Assemble a supply kit that includes enough food and water for at least three days, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Consider each person’s specific needs, including medication. –Do not forget the needs of pets.
–Have extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
–Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage.
–Consider a retrofit of your building to correct structural issues that make it vulnerable to collapse during an earthquake.
[For more information and details about what to do before and after an earthquake, visit ready.gov/earthquake]