Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Disaster Kits

Getting help when the disaster hits is life saving, but even more so is seeking the optimal solution to prevent the disaster from occurring in the first place; and with every story about disaster preparedness we should also be hearing what public leadership has done to ensure the disaster doesn’t strike.

In the case of flooding in Sacramento, that is 500 year flood protection, only available from the Auburn Dam.

An excerpt.

Getting everyone out safely
Groups' disaster kits will help the vulnerable if a flood hits
By Phillip Reese -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In the year since Hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands of residents -- mostly the elderly, poor and disabled -- stranded in the drenched city of New Orleans, Sacramento County officials have warned they likely could not evacuate everyone who would need help if a large flood hit here.

Concerned, the local American Red Cross chapter and a new group called Citizen Voice went to work, and the results will be announced today: a kit to help the vulnerable get out of their homes in a disaster.

Items in the kit include a waterproof paper doorknob hanger that says "Safely Out" on one side and "Need Help" on the other -- to signal emergency officials whether residents need assistance.
Also included is a refrigerator magnet to remind the disabled residents, or anyone assisting them, of three or four people who have agreed to help them leave their home.

That magnet is necessary, officials say, because it's not safe to count entirely on the government during a disaster.

A Bee analysis in January of census data and state flood maps found that more than 150,000 poor, elderly and disabled Sacramento residents live in areas prone to flooding. A Sacramento County grand jury report a few months later faulted local officials for lacking an adequate plan to get those residents out and called for such a plan to be completed by this month.

But it's not done.

County Emergency Operations Coordinator Rick Martinez said that while his agency is working on a plan, it was delayed by emergency demands during the recent heat wave. Martinez said it should be ready this fall.

Michael Dunne, an advocate with Resources for Independent Living, a local nonprofit group that works with the poor, elderly and disabled, isn't holding his breath.