By Paul Dutton
Special to the Outlook
After getting more than 10 feet of snow and being stuck for more than eight days, 13 people have died.
The mountain communities in San Bernardino were in peril after 15 days of back-to-back storms. The atmospheric river dumped over ten feet of snow and cut off Big Bear from the outside world. Most were without power and heat as gas lines froze, and power lines were affected. The local stores were cleaned out of supplies and food within two days. Many people were on their own for more than a week, and many residents wondered why help had not arrived sooner.
The good people from Crestline to Big Bear all knew several storms were coming. So why did they not prepare? I have been teaching the principles of emergency preparedness now for more than 20 years and find people have common misconceptions about disasters. They commonly think, “It won’t happen to me,” and “It won’t be that bad.”
In the Crescenta Valley Sheriff Station’s Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) training, we compare different disasters and their effect on homeowners over a 24-hour period. We do not know when an earthquake will strike. We do know when a snowstorm is coming. We have time to prepare unless we just keep on thinking, “It will not happen to me!”
That is what the residents during the Woolsey Fire thought. A fire that started in the hills west of Chatsworth traveled to the beaches of Malibu in just one day. I worked at the Red Cross shelters that night. More than 500 people were displaced and had nowhere to go.
We have lost power here in the foothills many times with Red Flag wind events. In 2005, 2009 and 2011, we lost power for days in La Crescenta. Imagine if we lost power and had no heat with the nights getting down to the 30s?
Are you ready to be without power, heat, food and water for 30 days? We used to teach people to have three days’ worth of supplies. Now we teach people to have enough food and water for thirty days. You should have 1 gallon of water per person per day. This means a family of four will need 120 gallons of water to be ready!
If it is a snowstorm, fire, wind event, or an earthquake, the results are the same. You will be without electricity, gas, food and water if you do not prepare ahead of time. Now is the time to get ready, not after the event occurs! Come to one of our CERT training courses and find out why I have been preparing our community for over twenty-one years. We want to help you get ready.
So, I ask, “Are you ready?”
Dutton has been the Crescenta Valley Sheriff Station’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) coordinator for the last 21 years. He is a certified CERT Instructor with FEMA, Homeland Security and CAL OES. He has taught 40 classes to more than 800 people in the 24-hour Emergency Preparedness course. He has also been a Red Cross trainer, shelter operations manager and a frontline supervisor for many disasters including the Woolsey Fire.
First published in the May 18 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.