PLATFORM/Are you prepared?
A Department of Homeland Security survey released last month found that at least one-quarter of cities are not confident in their disaster response plans. American City & County asked its weekly e-mail newsletter subscribers if their community was prepared to respond to catastrophic events. If not, what did they need to be more prepared? If so, how has their community prepared itself? Two of the responses follow.
“One of the things that we have heard over and over is that we have the education from government-sponsored workshops but that we have failed to pass the information on to the everyday people who will benefit the most from the education. So, we decided to try to do something about it. Last year, partnering with Coos County, Ore., Emergency Management, Southwestern Oregon Public Safety Association (SWOPSA) received a grant from the Coquille Indian Tribe to purchase emergency radios for every city office and school district office in the county to improve early warning communications during a disaster. Then we jumped into the biggest partnering effort we have ever done [to teach the public about the possibility of earthquakes and tsunamis]. It was so successful that this year we have already begun the same planning process [for] another workshop this fall. This time, we will put most of the focus on preparedness and what each person, business or agency can do to assure they are as prepared as possible.”
— Kathleen Hornstuen, secretary and project coordinator, Southwestern Oregon Public Safety Association
“So far, it looks as if most communities are really not ready for any kind of disaster. What is sorely lacking in most community plans, including Prince William County, Va., is citizen participation in the process. Passing out another pamphlet will not do it, and drills are not going to do it either. What is needed is a massive public education effort to reach at least 80 percent of the community. Television, radio and print media public service announcements coupled with direct mail instructions and directions is a good place to start.”
— Louis Dominguez, president, Gainesville, Va.-based Safe America