Are You Prepared For OC Burning?

Lake Mission Viejo

Dear Friends,

The storm clouds of economic crisis that already hover over “The OC” may soon be joined by those of firestorms with the dramatic advent of the Fire Season.  Are you prepared?  What would you do if disaster visited your neighborhood?  The above photograph was taken only a year ago at Lake Mission Viejo as fires creped down the hills engulfing homes and fortunes.

Today in Santa Ana, like so many OC communities, cities have disaster plans should the worst-case scenarios be realized.  And yet, besides city officials, who knows the plan?  Who knows what to do?

Disaster can come in the form of fires, wind, rain, earthquakes and even economic collapse.  These are not theoretical possibilities – we have seen it all here in The OC.  But what have we learned?  Now, more than ever before, we need to embrace those principals that have seen us through hard times in the past.  Today, we need to get back to “Self Reliance”.

Self reliance meaning not so much to rely just upon yourself, but to rely on your neighbors as well, especially when government (local, state or federal) may be stretched beyond their capacity.  As such, the lesson for every homeowner is to be prepared and have a plan on what to do when disaster strikes.

At a Santa Ana City Council Meeting earlier this year, I had asked the City Council to become more supportive of efforts like California’s Office of Homeland Security’s “Golden Guardian” program that will conduct a state-wide mock disaster drill in November to practice emergency preparedness.  This drill could not only provide City Fire and Police Departments with practice in overwhelm situations, but just as important, this would be a great opportunity to train and coordinate an organized neighborhood based response.  Sadly enough, no response came from the City Council to my request, rather they spent there valuable “air time” to wish each other happy birthdays.

Again and again, we all know government will fail to rise to the occasion be it at City Hall or in Washington D.C..  This is all the more reason why local neighborhood leadership should stand up and prepare to protect their own property.   “Community Oriented Government” is based upon organized blocks of homes in the very neighborhoods we live in.

We need to recognize that our best defense in so many emergencies can often be our next-door neighbors.  From training in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) to developing your own unique “Neighborhood Disaster Preparedness Plan” can make all the difference in the world in diverting tragedy from visiting your doorstep.

Consider, what you would do when all emergency response personnel and vehicles are already committed elsewhere?  What happens to your home when an earthquake shakes the entire county and fires pop up everywhere?  Consider what a difference being prepared can make in peace of mind as well as providing real confidence to residents in the event that the sky should ever start falling.

Unlike so many City Council Members, I would not delegate Emergency Preparedness to “the experts”. I would work to make every citizen – an expert in simple basic survival skills.  Moreover, I would make it a top priority to encourage every neighborhood to create an emergency response plan.  Like “Earth Day” and other events that recognize the value of what citizens can do; I would have a citywide “Community Emergency Preparedness Day” every year with preparation conducted throughout the year.

About Jim Walker

Really nice guy.