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Earlier in February, a blizzard and frozen roads brought the city of Atlanta to a screeching halt. Similarly, changing weather across the country has challenged the most prepared of cities with their emergency response plans. Rather than the blizzards, freezing rain, and hurricanes of the east coast, Southern California has often measured itself in seasons of Fire, Earthquakes, and Floods. And the City of Temecula, home to over 100,000 people, strives to be prepared to handle each and every possible emergency for the safety of its citizens.
Assistant City Manager, Greg Butler, and Emergency Coordinator, Roberto Cardenas, are responsible for doing just that. “Emergency preparedness is a combination between emergency response services within the city, and individual responsibility.” Butler said. “Our primary role is to keep the city in a ready state for all sorts of different emergencies applicable to Southern California.”
In Temecula all plans are modeled after a nation-wide standard, and the city contracts with Cal Fire, and CALEMA, and the Governer’s office of Emergency Services. “Every scenario has been taken into account, whether natural or man-made,” stated Butler. “Our directors from the city are trained on how to respond based upon the emergency event.” Training consists of both surprise and planned scenarios where city responders can practice response to a variety of emergencies, and grade themselves on their successes and find areas of improvement.
In addition, Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) are in place around the city, in case one or more would be unreachable during an emergency such as flood or fire. “The Library (on Pauba Rd.) is the highest point in the city, and is one of our EOCs.” Stated Butler. Other emergency centers include Abbot Labs, and Pechanga Resort and Casino. “We all work together to ensure our readiness is up to date.” Butler said.
If you live in Southern California, chances are you’ve felt the ground shudder. Temecula straddles the quiet Elsinore Fault Line, it is noteworthy to mention the proximity to major fault areas of San Andreas, San Jacinto, San Gabriel, and other geologic faults. The City of Temecula participates in training “table top” exercises, such as Shake Out, and scripts written to test the emergency planning from wild fires, flooding, to dam breeches.
“Every employee of the city is a dedicated service worker.” Butler said. “Each would be counted on in the event of a city-wide emergency.”
Temecula also insists on family first. Butler elaborated, saying: “We want our employees to look to the safety of their own families prior to engaging them for emergency operations, and remind everyone in the city—through the Temecula Citizens’ Corps (TCC)—to be prepared to shelter in place, if possible, in the event of a non-evacuation emergency.”
As described on their web site, the TCC’s mission is to encourage all residents of Temecula put the following in place :
- Prepare yourself and your family
Make a plan
Prepare your emergency kits/supplies
Know the possible emergencies and stay informed
- Neighborhood Watch
Keep your home and neighborhood safe
Know enough to know when something or someone is out of place
Be eligible for TCC training: 1st aid; CPR; AED, and more!
- CERT: Community Emergency Response Team
Train to help others; and if possible, help emergency responders, and the City in time of need.
If you ask your neighbors you may find some who are ready to shelter in place during an emergency, but many are not.
“It used to be the ‘Rule of 72,’” Stated Butler, of the three-day’s minimum supplies residents were encouraged to have under their roofs. “However, (Hurricane) Katrina showed us that our residents need to be prepared to shelter in place for up to 168 hours—or seven days.” Even the seven day rule is expanding to two weeks, according to the Ready.Gov national web site.
“People help themselves, which in turn helps the community,” Cardenas explained. “There are instances of neighborhoods banding together to pool their resources in advance, so that not everyone has to own a generator, or have everything on hand.”
Common sense lists include:
For a complete list of suggested emergency items, visit: http://temeculacitizencorps.org
“Sheltering in place allows the city workers and emergency responders to do their work while resources and services are being restored,” stated Cardenas. “All families should have a plan, for meeting at a designated spot, and even an additional away from home meeting place should emergencies reach a broader scale.” Even an out of state contact should be decided upon, should phone and cellular services be out of commission.
The TCC works in tandem with the city, dedicated toward sharing their knowledge and recruiting others to learn how to care for each other in the event of an emergency. The Corps, often on hand at events such as with the Temecula Valley Hospital’s Community Days, and others, educates citizens to take part in their emergency planning, and join the group to not be bystanders, but get into the fray and help when needed.
For more information, visit: