Thursday, September 15, 2005

Are We Paying Attention In Los Angeles

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina's destruction in the gulf states, The Los Angeles Daily News asks of us Angelenos a simple question: "Are We Ready?", and answers simply "No."
When the long-feared Big One finally hits Southern California, it will come with the element of surprise of the 9-11 attacks compounded by the fury of nature - like that unleashed by Hurricane Katrina.

Experts warn Los Angeles will be hard-pressed to deal with the calamity - likely an earthquake at least magnitude 7.0 - despite the millions of dollars spent each year to train and equip emergency workers who have demonstrated their skill in numerous disasters, from quakes to floods to firestorms.

"Most people don't realize how bad off we are," said Terry O'Sullivan, a homeland security analyst at the University of Southern California.

Officials have developed no large-scale plan for evacuating the city of 3.8 million residents.

The Los Angeles River is lined with concrete to prevent localized flooding, but the dams that control runoff from the Sierra were built before World War II. Outmoded natural gas pipelines underlie the region. The city is dotted with old, seismically unsafe buildings. And an already overtaxed public health care system would be hard-pressed to handle the casualties in a major disaster.
"Events at this magnitude would overwhelm all first responders," he said. "We don't have enough personnel to handle the number of responses and issues we'd be dealing with. What we can be confident about is that resources would be called in from as far as needed to provide assistance."

But those resources could take several days to reach all in need. And experts say that the real onus is on the public to be prepared. No matter what the scenario, it's likely many will be stranded without aid for days. Everyone should have a disaster kit with the essentials for survival for three days, officials said.

"If you're prepared for an earthquake, you have food, water, radio, flashlight, first-aid kit and maybe some first-aid training. It might be 72 hours before assistance comes."
"The overriding question is, what will we learn from Katrina?" Lamoureux asked rhetorically. Just as they did with 9-11, he said, "emergency managers everywhere are going to step back and look at what worked for them, what didn't work for them, and see where we change the way we need to operate. It's too early right now to make that judgment."

Full article....

Consider ourselves warned.... once again.

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