Friday, March 27, 2009

Shake, Ratlle & Roll

Think you're covered in the event of an earthquake? Newsflash: No.
LAist wrote that the recent hike in earthquake activity at the southern tip of the infamous San Andreas fault could be indicative of an upcoming, devastating earthquake. Scientists have predicted that there is a 99% chance of a 7.8-8.0 (much overdue) earthquake striking California in the next 30 years; expert seismologist Lucy Jones thinks the probability window is more like 2 years. How well are we prepared? How much help can we expect? Not much.

Back in November, a Shake Out Drill was organized by an alliance of California public and private organizations. When we contacted them to find out what we could do at our neighborhood level in terms of disaster preparedness, they replied: get an earthquake kit (we already have one,) then at 10 am on 11/13 duck under a table and hold on tight. Nothing about community drills or involvement of any sort. Baffled, we contacted the LAFD, and the City of Santa Monica, to find out if there were any initiatives at our local level, but both directed us to the Shake Out website (which, by the way, has not been updated since November.)

Concerned about the lack of training, preparedness and overall coordination, we went to our local American Red Cross, to find out if they had any initiatives, or courses, in emergency preparedness. They gave us a link to an online presentation of the Red Cross Disaster Services, but nothing about community involvement and preparedness. Luckily, LAist pointed out the LAFD's free CERT training programs, and we have registered pronto. The bottom line is: it took us a lot of time, and proactive effort, to find out how to get prepared (how many Angelenos, and neighbors, have even bothered?) More frightening: there does not seem to be any coordination between the various, "responsible" agencies.

What does this tell us? If disaster strikes, we're all on our own, Katrina-style. Local and regional official organizations may be vocal about emergency preparedness, but nothing is done to ensure that people are prepared at individual and community level, or to assist and enlist those who want to be. It's all talk but no walk. And when the Big One hits us, it will do so with a vengeance.
photo of 1994 Northridge earthquqke Doug Pizac/AP via


Tracy Hopkins said...

Check out and click on Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) this is a program that builds and strengthens disaster readiness among neighbors and gives the 9 steps to take in the first hour after a disaster.

We at Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Watch ( have adopted and have trained over 300 residents from 4 local cities and the number is growing as more residents are trained every month and as more surrounding cities see the importance of this program. It is the perfect program that compliments CERT Training.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can receive free training from the Red Cross on preparedness. Check out:

LA Frog said...

Thanks to both commenters for the info/links. FYI, the ARC Santa Monica doesn't offer preparedness courses (we checked), so anyone interested should contact the ARC LA @

We have also started the CERT free classes from LAFD (Community Emergency Response Team) and they are great: