Supervisors create disaster recovery working group
By Joe Naiman
San Diego County Board of Supervisors has directed Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard to establish a working group to further develop its disaster recovery plan.
The plan has four components: Helping individuals recover, restoring community lifelines, rebuilding community fabric and readying a trained workforce to conduct recovery activities in a community.
“The key philosophy behind this initiative is to aggressively plan for disaster recovery now,” said Ron Lane, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Services.
The supervisors in April directed Ekard to prepare an “Advanced Post-Disaster Recovery Initiative” that would include efforts already under way along with any new initiatives necessary to provide a comprehensive program the county could adopt before a disaster to enhance recovery following that disaster. Recommendations included creating a working group to include the Office of Emergency Services, the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority, the Department of Purchasing and Contracting, the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Planning and Land Use, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of General Services.
“If government is ever needed, it’s during a disaster,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “Nothing really does mitigate the disaster, so the more prepared we can be the better off we’re going to be.”
The supervisors’ action also approved a comprehensive document called “Establishing Local Assistance Centers” as a guideline to create and organize assistance centers during the post-disaster process. The county established local assistance centers following the October 2007 wildfires. “It was like on-the-job training, but we were the first ever to do something like that,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
“That’s what good government is,” said Supervisor Pam Slater-Price. “It’s being on the front line to help people when they truly need it.”
Helping individuals recover also includes providing emergency and recovery information to hearing-impaired and site-impaired citizens, an individual assistance form for residents and businesses to report losses during a disaster, and the “Red Guide to Recovery” book, which has been distributed to fire agencies and Community Emergency Response Team organizations, according to the county report.
Helping communities recover includes public transportation agreements, a vendor pre-qualification list for recovery operations, resource protocols, and regional agreements to address damage assessments, clearing debris, sharing community teams, and establishing processes for donations.
It also includes a Lifelines Committee to coordinate resumption and response for such essentials as communication, water, power, and fuel, establishment and operation of points of distribution and regional staging areas, states the report.
Rebuilding community fabric will include a Disaster Housing Task Force, information from banks and credit unions about potential mobile automatic teller machines, the ReadySanDiego Business Alliance to assist in disaster recovery, planning for access and functional needs, and collaboration with the San Diego Foundation to direct charitable funds toward community groups.
All county workers are designated as disaster response workers, and the efforts toward readying a trained workforce include training and exercises along with county department continuity of operations plans.
“It’s an incredible piece of work,” Jacob said.
Past county actions have included establishing a 211 information line to provide information during emergencies while leaving the 911 line open to report emergencies.
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