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FROM: ASSISTANT TO THE CITY MANAGER
DATE: DECEMBER 20, 2005
SUBJECT: POTENTIAL DISASTER PREPAREDNESS ACTION ITEMS
Direct the Emergency Preparedness Committee to review all the potential action items and select high priority items for staff to investigate further and prepare cost estimates for City Council consideration during the next budget policy workshop.
The City’s financial resources and staffing committed toward emergency preparedness typically dictates the level of disaster preparedness of the City. The City of Rancho Palos Verdes has accomplished many key elements within a short period of time, but there is much work remaining. At the request of Mayor Steve Wolowicz, staff prepared a wish list of potential action items to improve the City’s overall preparedness. Since this list is quite exhaustive, staff recommends referring the matter to the City’s Emergency Preparedness Committee to prioritize the list for the Council.
Disaster preparation is an on-going process that requires focusing on high probability disasters; pre-planning to reduce loss of life, critical facilities, and suffering; training residents, city officials and employees to appropriately respond during and after a disaster; and reviewing and updating every aspect of disaster planning.
Within the City’s available human, financial and capital resources, the City has made significant strides toward disaster preparedness. The City Council created the Emergency Preparedness Task Force in 2002 and then established a permanent Emergency Preparedness Committee in 2003. Since then, the City has developed an Emergency Preparedness Information bulletin for the Community Forum Newsletter that was distributed to every household; arranged for staff training in Emergency Management and Operations; developed a user-friendly set-up for the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and purchased temporary, essential supplies for an alternative EOC facility location; sponsored community outreach booths at the various City events, such as Whale of a Day and 4th of July Celebration; drafted a handbook on emergency response instructions for city personnel; initiated and supported the formation of a local ham radio group for disaster communications at the neighborhood level---PVAN (Peninsula Volunteer Alert Network); posted critical public information on the City’s website; approved dedicated space for disaster communication operations and additional radio equipment; conducted two Peninsula-wide meetings with various community groups on emergency preparedness; hosted Community Leaders’ Breakfast meetings on the topics of San Diego Wildfires and the Gulf Coast’s Hurricane Katrina; encouraged the Neighborhood Watch program to incorporate emergency preparedness responsibilities; adopted the Joint Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan with the City of Rolling Hills Estates; coordinated the implementation of a satellite connection with the County Office of Emergency Management as an alternative form of communications during a disaster incident; published Emergency Preparedness Information in the Palos Verdes Telephone Directory annually; applied for and received grant funds for purchasing needed equipment and supplies for the City’s Emergency Operations Center and field operations; supported PVP CERT (Community Emergency Response Team); discussed and coordinated disaster planning issues (i.e. Tsunami planning and animal evacuation routes) with the County Office of Emergency Management, first responder agencies and other disaster assistance organizations; participated in County disaster training exercises; responded to public inquiries; maintained emergency contact information of city officials, contractors, vendors, utilities, etc. and much more. The City is currently developing Public Service Announcements on emergency preparedness topics to air on the local cable channels, updating the City’s SEMS (Standardized Emergency Management Plan), preparing bid documents to purchase the modular office trailer for the disaster communications center, and planning to begin staff training on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in 2006.
As a contract City, the City is expected to have access to a larger pool of the resources and expertise available through the County of Los Angeles than the City would be able to provide on its own. In addition, statewide mutual aid assistance would be available to the City through the State Office of Emergency Services. However, there is some uncertainty as to how swiftly and available these resources will be forthcoming during an actual disaster incident impacting a portion or the entire Los Angeles County region.
At the request of Mayor Steve Wolowicz, staff compiled a preliminary list of necessary items that would aid the City’s readiness for any disaster, if money were not an issue. Staff compiled the recommendations from the City’s Emergency Preparedness Committee, PVP CERT, Sheriff, Area G Disaster Management, City’s Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, previous staff reports of the Emergency Preparedness Task Force and staff observations of how the City’s level of disaster preparedness may be improved upon.
A. Public Policy
1. Begin including provisions in all relevant city service contracts that detail pre-arranged terms and conditions for providing supplies and services when requested by the city due to an emergency or disaster.
2. Determine priorities for the City’s restoration of the community’s infrastructure and vital public facilities following a disaster.
3. Develop additional zoning, building and reconstruction policies for post-disaster situations.
4. Incorporate Crime Prevention through Environmental Design concept for new public facilities or improvement projects.
5. Consider whether the City may have the authority to activate and direct PVP CERT volunteers.
6. Develop disaster policies addressing license and fee waivers for roll-off trash bins for private property trash, temporary trailers, mobile homes, etc.
1. Develop pre-plans for mass evacuation, mass inoculations, mass casualties, managing donated goods and services, staging areas for emergency personnel, sheltering locations, etc.
2. Establish written agreements with private companies and vendors to provide various disaster supplies (food, water, tents, trailers) and services at a pre-determined cost in case of an emergency or disaster.
3. Create or initiate a group of business leaders dedicated to disaster preparedness and to develop pre-plans for business continuity, resumption and recovery after a disaster.
4. Develop a city program for private property owners and businesses to obtain funding for structural and non-structural retrofitting for buildings that are identified as seismically vulnerable.
5. Provide emergency planning or develop plans for assistance to seniors, people with disabilities and other special need groups.
6. Create and establish a volunteer medical disaster team to assist first responders.
7. Consider how to accommodate household pets during mass evacuations and sheltering scenarios.
8. Develop childcare provisions for employees at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) or nearby location during a disaster situation.
9. Photo document all city assets on an annual basis and store records off-site.
10. Pre-arrange with a sister city an 800 telephone number for employees to call and listen to a pre-recorded message about the City’s disaster status, reporting to work and what to do next. The City would offer the same service in exchange.
11. Develop pre-arrangements for emergency lodging of critical employees during a disaster situation.
C. Community Outreach
1. Create a dedicated disaster preparedness webpage.
2. Partner with other agencies and develop outreach programs designed for seniors, schools, students, homeowners, businesses, etc. on disaster planning, mitigation, etc.
3. Develop informational programs in various languages on several emergency preparedness topics to air on the City’s cable channel.
4. Partner with local retailers to create a direct mail campaign to all city households on disaster preparedness.
5. Advocate family disaster kits and sell emergency kits from City Hall.
D. Assessment and Mitigation
1. Coordinate with the Los Angeles County Sanitation District to ensure an appropriate mitigation action plan and disaster response plan is in place for the Palos Verdes Landfill.
2. Develop comprehensive inventories of critical facilities and infrastructure.
3. Improve knowledge of tsunami and landslide hazards to develop a better understanding of vulnerability and risk to life and property in hazard prone areas.
4. Explore opportunities to participate in scientific and academic research projects regarding local tsunami hazards.
5. Address construction and subdivision design within steep slopes to reduce the potential adverse impacts from development.
6. Assess all public buildings for vulnerability to identified hazards and follow up with mitigation.
7. Initiate a Community Vulnerability and Threat Assessment.
1. Hire at least one-full time, dedicated disaster preparedness coordinator to implement some of the proposed action items.
2. Depending upon program focus, hire full time personnel dedicated to volunteer coordination, community outreach, training, etc.
3. Incorporate Disaster Service Worker swearing-in during employee orientation and promote responsibility in all employment announcements.
4. Develop pre-planned arrangements with other cities far away (northern California or out of state) for disaster staffing support. Sister cities could respond immediately, whereas the OES mutual aid agreement process may take 2-3 days to respond.
1. Establish several caches of emergency and disaster supplies (water, food, medicine, protective clothing/equipment, batteries, heavy duty staple guns, spray paint, computer laptops, personal protective equipment, lights, spare tires for city vehicles, road barricades, shovels, generators, etc) in 20-40 foot storage containers strategically placed at Hesse Park, Ladera Linda, City Hall, school sites and other key community sites for use by City staff and first responders during a disaster.
2. Purchase in bulk directly from the manufacturer 55-gallon water storage containers to provide or partially subsidize for single-family residences.
3. Store copies of city maps, plans, and other significant operational documents off-site in case everything at city hall is demolished or inaccessible.
4. Build a permanent, dedicated Emergency Operations Center for the City.
5. Evaluate options and purchase hazard warning systems, ie. Tsunami evacuation route signage for Abalone Cove and automated telecommunications message system.
6. Purchase emergency kits for all city employees to store at their desk.
7. Purchase a mobile command center or EOC.
8. Designate a separate volunteer staging area away from the EOC for managing volunteers.
9. Consider fuel storage and dispensers (55 gallon drums with hand pumps marked for gas or diesel that can be put on a truck for delivering to remote facilities, generators, etc.).
10. Purchase a supply of GPS receivers (assume there may be no street signs—maps maybe have limited value for responders from outside the area).
11. Contract with cell site providers for temporary cell towers.
12. Purchase enough laptops with wireless capability for each EOC management personnel.
13. Acquire or rent a portable low to medium powered FM broadcast radio station for local emergency information broadcasts (needs emergency FCC permit).
14. Store several thousand small portable AM/FM radios and batteries for public distribution.
15. Build and store 15-20 wooden information message boards to be used for posting disaster response and recovery information immediately after a disaster when standard communications are unavailable.
16. Purchase furniture, equipment and other necessary supplies for alternative EOC location.
17. Prepare in advance temporary badges for full and partial access into the EOC operations area for authorized personnel only to control the perimeter of EOC operations and associated areas.
18. Purchase photo ID system to track each person’s time and access for security and disaster reimbursement purposes.
1. Conduct regular training for City staff and City Council in SEMS (California Emergency Management System), NIMS (National Incident Management System), for disaster response and recovery phases, including terminology, organization, protocols, crisis communications with the media, etc.
2. Conduct regular drills for City staff to practice EOC functions and field functions (operations, sheltering, damage assessment, planning, gathering intelligence, finance administration, communications, hazard materials etc.).
3. Conduct various disaster drills with public safety agencies, nonprofits dedicated to disaster preparedness, Ports, County, schools, residents, etc.
4. Conduct regular drills for City staff to practice EOC functions and field functions (operations, sheltering, damage assessment, planning, gathering intelligence, finance administration, communications, hazard materials etc.).
5. Send city staff for specialized training in the EOC functions they are pre-assigned to perform.
6. Educate City staff on federal and state grant programs for disaster assistance and hazard mitigation.
7. Train all staff in first aid for use at home or at work. (CPR is not recommended, because the success rate for novices is very low.)