28 Dec

Task force holds disaster fair

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MONTEBELLO – A local disaster preparedness task force created after Hurricane Katrina held its first educational fair for residents in Montebello this weekend. State Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Norwalk, called for the creation of the task force last fall to explore how prepared the community is to deal with a major disaster. She cited a lack of coordination between federal, state and local governments in Katrina’s aftermath. She also noted a “void” when it comes to residents being prepared for a big disaster. Task force members have already met with local emergency officials. But on Saturday, Escutia held an “Emergency Preparedness Community Day” fair and workshops for residents. A recent study by the RAND Corp., UCLA and Los Angeles County found that only a third of Los Angeles residents are prepared for a major disaster or terrorist attack. “Our event was to draw attention to the importance of emergency preparedness so that individuals could be ready in case emergency responders could not get to them immediately after a catastrophic event,” said Erica Jacquez-Santos, district director for Escutia’s office. “We hope to inspire a dialogue between families so they can learn how to work with each other during an emergency, and it gave them a chance to build a relationship with the agencies as well,” she added. Norwalk City Councilman Rick Ramirez and Marco Firebaugh, a former commissioner for the California Medical Assistance Commission, were selected to co-chair the task force. Members were drawn from a myriad of intergovernmental agencies, hospitals, churches, nonprofit organizations and businesses, said Jacquez-Santos. Firebaugh said many agencies and first responders had received training through federal and state grants. But the training had not “trickled down to the people.” “We thought we could coordinate a community education program to get deeper into the neighborhood and teach people in a group about the challenges they’ll face in a disaster and try to compel them to prepare themselves,” Firebaugh said. The RAND study showed that a majority of people believe a major terrorist attack will occur in the next year. Few have stockpiled supplies or developed family response plans. The study also found that African Americans and Latinos were more prepared for a disaster than whites or Asians. “Those statistics were alarming to the senator and to a whole bunch of us,” Firebaugh said. “Five years after 9/11 and people still don’t know what to do in case of a disaster. It was very unsettling.” pam.wight@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029last_img read more