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Laying the Foundation for a Resilient Los Angeles

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In planning for disasters... our neighbors are our allies - not our competition. Lucy Jones

Recovering from a major disaster is difficult for all community members, but it is particularly challenging for people in the region’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. However, there are tools that a community can utilize to become more resilient. On April 6, prominent local and national disaster and resiliency experts shared some of these resources with 200 civic, business, community, and faith-based leaders at the Red Cross Los Angeles Region’s Inaugural Resiliency Academy. 

Held at the Walt Disney Studios, the event featured prominent seismologist and L.A. city “Earthquake Czar” Dr. Lucy Jones and Joe Threat, Sr., President of Threat Defense and former head of FEMA’s Louisiana Recovery Office.

Dr. Jones, scientist emerita of the U.S. Geological Society and visiting research associate at Cal Tech, spoke about where we are as a city in terms of resiliency. She said when helping residents plan for disasters, the primary message is that our neighbors are our allies – not our competition – and we need to help each other. Joe Threat discussed the resiliency issue from multiple perspectives – individual, community leader, business owner, and governmental leader. 

Participants had the opportunity to work together to build their own community resiliency plans and also learned about the different aspects of building resiliency from the following panelists:  Andrea Davis, Director, Crisis Management & Business Continuity, the Walt Disney Company (and Vice Chair, Red Cross Los Angeles Region Board of Directors); Anna Burton, Assistant General Manager, City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, and Ben Raju, Deputy District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration. Speaking to the small business owners in the audience, he said, “You have a certain responsibility to take care of yourself and empower your employees to do the same. The preparedness side can get a little overwhelming, but don’t let it. Start with small steps.”

Other speakers included Michelle Constant, CEO, Constant and Associates, Inc.; Alix Stayton, Emergency Management Consultant; Russ Paulsen, Executive Director, American Red Cross Community Preparedness and Resilience Services; Teresa Lange, Project Manager, American Red Cross Community Resilience Coalition; and L.A. Fire Department Chief Alicia Welsh. Chief Welsh emphasized that the very first and crucial step everyone should take is to make a disaster plan. She also discussed her experiences engaging the community as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign and how the initiative is changing how we deliver preparedness information to the community.

The Red Cross urged all participants to take what they learned from the day-long event to continue the discussion about how to propel the resiliency movement forward. 

For more information about how the Red Cross is promoting resiliency, visit the Red Cross PrepareSoCal Campaign website at  

Photos: Rudy Lopez