On Thursday, June 21, the American Red Cross with support from PG&E and the Boys & Girls Club of East Palo Alto held a Disaster Readiness Conference for the East Palo Alto community.
The conference was an opportunity for community stakeholders to understand hazard risks, map out existing community resources, and plan for future preparedness activities, such as organizational resilience courses and disaster preparedness trainings for residents. Most importantly, the conference not only familiarized neighborhood organizations with the work of the Red Cross, but also facilitated preparedness-centric networking and fostered collaboration and partnerships among neighborhood organizations that are vital to the sustainability of preparedness efforts.
With 40 people representing 20 different agencies and community-based organizations across different sectors in attendance, the event was a success.
The event focused on partnerships among community-based agencies and city and county agencies. Highlights from the event included an interactive presentation on increasing personal preparedness, organizational preparedness, and a table-top exercise called Resilientville. During the exercise, attendees came to the conclusion that building partnerships and establishing agreements between agencies before a disaster is critical to effective disaster response and recovery.
The event also included presentations for the San Mateo Office of Emergency Services, covering Business Partnerships from Heather Plamondon and Hazards Assessment with Jeff Norris. There was also a discussion of Interagency Collaboration from Madelyn Mackie of the Red Cross, just to name a few. The conference served a critical role in helping unite the local community around the cause of disaster preparedness. Indeed, a vast majority of attendees reported that they met a new contact person during the event. These relationships will prove crucial during an emergency.
The conference also served as a lead-in for an Organizational Resilience Course on June 28. The course, with a strong focus on practical, step-by-step instructions on preparing an organization, further disseminates valuable preparedness information in the community. Both of these events, in combination with continuing preparedness outreach efforts, are helping East Palo Alto become a resilient community.