With the unimaginable happening on the Gulf Coast, communities have gained a new sense of emergency awareness, ready to react in case natural disasters strike.
Although natural disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita are not the top concerns in Southern California, this region definitely has its share of worry.
“In this area, earthquakes are the biggest disaster that everybody thinks about, but you can also have a ruptured gas line or a major fire,” University of La Verne Director of Campus Safety Mike Nunez said.
“Each incident would necessitate a different response,” he added.
A significant disaster would affect the University along with the rest of the community.
“One of the things that people don’t understand is that in the event of an earthquake, resources will be depleted very fast so they will be on their own for a while,” said La Verne Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron Sillo.
“People think the fire department will get there right away and all they have to do is have a phone number to call during an emergency,” he added.
The American Red Cross stresses the need for individuals to be prepared to fend for themselves for at least 72 hours after a major disaster.
They strongly recommend having a disaster supply kit that includes a three-day supply per person.
For instance, one person needs at least one gallon of water per day.
Additionally, kits should include items such as non-perishable foods, first aid supplies, a flashlight and medical supplies.
“We keep a lot of food and necessary supplies in stock on campus,” said ULV President Stephen Morgan.
Communication or the lack of communication is a key issue that has been a major problem during the recent hurricane relief efforts.
“The students who live on campus would be directly contacted by the (resident assistants) and managed through housing,” Executive Vice President Phil Hawkey said of ULV’s planned response to a disaster.
Returning students who live in the dorms have experienced the emergency drills that are performed at least once per semester.
Because of this semester routine, the students are better prepared.
“We know where the fire extinguishers are and that we are supposed to come to the parking lot in case of a fire,” said sophomore Erica Boyd, an Oaks resident.
The University residents could not ask for better neighbors during an emergency situation.
“We have an advantage in that we are across the street from the La Verne Police and Fire Departments,” Hawkey said.
“We would have access to their information and some of their resources.
That would be an important supplement to what we do,” he added.
With Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in our minds, there is an opportunity to contemplate the future.
“It is unfortunate but I think the disasters in New Orleans and Texas have made everybody aware that maybe we need to start looking at our situation,” Nunez said.
“Everybody figures that it won’t happen to me, but you never know,” he added.
Angie Gangi can be reached at email@example.com.