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Taking Action before Disasters Strike

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Photos by Rudy Lopez

"There's not a single part of the community in isolation when disaster strikes." Don Daigler

Panel Discussion Focuses on Building Networks before Disaster Strikes

Focusing on the importance of helping local communities plan for and react to major disasters, Red Cross Los Angeles Region hosted the “Resilient Together” panel discussion and luncheon on Oct. 13 at the LA Times Chandler Auditorium.

Red Cross donors, partners, employees, volunteers, and emergency planning professionals from across the Southland attended the discussion. The event capped the successful conclusion of the first phase of the PrepareSoCal campaign and served as the launch of the second phase, which focuses on promoting resiliency in communities most vulnerable to disasters.

Red Cross LA Chief Development Officer Erin O’Toole celebrated the results of PrepareSoCal, which has helped prepare individuals and families across the Southland to be their own best first responders. O’Toole reported that nearly every goal in the first phase had been exceeded, including the number of CPR and First Aid certifications issued and the number of emergency shelter spots identified and secured.

Marissa Aho, Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of LA, kicked off the event with opening remarks and introduced CEO Jarrett Barrios. Barrios said that the first phase of PrepareSoCal was a success, and now phase two focuses on the Southland’s most vulnerable communities.

“We have seen the unequal impact and recovery felt by certain groups of people in past disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy,” said Barrios. He said Los-Angeles-specific Red Cross data indicates which communities are most vulnerable and that “knowing this is a call to action.”

A panel of distinguished subject matter experts discussed how to create resilient communities and why it is so important. Moderated by Red Cross LA Region Board Member Andrea Davis from The Walt Disney Company, the panel included Stella Fogleman, LA County Department of Public Health; Don Daigler, Southern California Edison; Vera De Vera, California Community Foundation; and Jim Featherstone, City of LA Emergency Management Department.

Echoing one of the major themes of the day, Don Daigler explained, “There’s not a single part of the community in isolation” when disaster strikes. Therefore “robust relationships with all the sectors” are critical to empower resiliency and manifest effective response and recovery measures.

De Vera emphasized that “if the community works together to build networks, you can bet they are going to be there when it counts.”

In addition, guests had the opportunity to discuss ways they can carry the idea of resiliency forward and take action in their own communities. Participants who created the most effective home disaster escape plans at each table received free Red Cross disaster preparedness kits.