Following the back-to-back Ridgecrest earthquakes felt in Los Angeles last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti has called on neighborhood councils and the city to better prepare local communities in the event of a natural disaster.
“These earthquakes were a reminder to all of us — be prepared and have a plan,” Garcetti said Friday. “Do what you can to be a community leader. The safest neighborhoods are those that plan together.”
Garcetti said the city’s Ready Your LA Neighborhood program, provided by the Emergency Management Department, has designed ways for people to coordinate emergency plans with their neighbors. These are basically toolkits people can use to construct a communication network.
The city also offers the ShakeAlert LA app that alerts users when an earthquake of a magnitude 5 or higher strikes, although the city is lobbying to lower that to 4.5 and above. Many people reported they were not alerted by their app during the quakes, but the city said that it has made adjustments and updated its app following the July 4 and 5 earthquakes.
Garcetti said he wants neighborhood councils to appoint preparedness officers to act as liaisons to the city’s Emergency Management Department and to provide them with RYLAN plans.
“These are just the few blocks around your home or apartment,” the mayor said, speaking about where the plans should be implemented. “Hold a resilience block party for preparation. Every day we give Angelenos the tools to protect their loved ones is a day that we get stronger.”
Lucy Jones, Ph.D, a seismologist formerly with the U.S. Geological Survey, said the earthquakes may not have hit directly in Los Angeles, but they do reinforce the need for preparedness.
“Just because we can’t tell you when (a big earthquake will come) does not mean it’s not part of our future,” Jones said.
The mayor was joined by City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, chair of the city council’s Public Safety Committee, as well as Councilman David Ryu and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas.
Aram Sahakian, general manager of the city’s Emergency Management Department, said throughout the country, stories have been pouring out about how neighborhoods banded together following a natural disaster, and that communities and neighborhoods that have a plan have recovered stronger.
“Identify emergency locations. Identify people who need assistance in your neighborhoods. Identify the skills and resources that can be used in a disaster,” Sahakian said. “We have prepared more than 2,600 households in Los Angeles with the RYLAN programs, but we have a long way to go.”
Information about the RYLAN program can be found at www.emergency.lacity.org/rylan/about.