Readiness Survey Suggests More People Are Concerned About Disasters

In the Fourth Annual Healthcare Ready national survey on the emergency preparedness of Americans, a larger number of respondents indicated a concern that they are vulnerable to a disaster, and yet 51 percent said they didn’t have a plan for a disaster.

Of the 1,245 adults surveyed, 54 percent said they are aware that they or their families could be affected by a disaster within the next five years. That was in increase from last year’s 51 percent. The survey results were released last week.

Marin, Calif., to Host Statewide Search-and-Rescue Event in October

(TNS) - Hundreds of rescue specialists will visit West Marin this fall for an annual statewide training exercise and conference.

The search-and-rescue exercise, known as SAREX, will be held at Walker Creek Ranch from Oct. 4 to 6. The event will be the first SAREX to take place in Marin, said Mike St. John, leader of the Marin County sheriff’s SAR Unit.

St. John said he expects 350 to 400 rescuers from around the state to participate in this year’s program. Last year, the event was held at Lake Tahoe Community College in El Dorado County.

California May Go Dark This Summer; Most Aren’t Ready

A plan by California’s biggest utility to cut power on high-wind days during the onrushing wildfire season could plunge millions of residents into darkness. And the vast majority isn’t ready for it.

The plan by PG&E Corp. comes after the bankrupt utility said a transmission line that snapped in windy weather probably started last year’s Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history. While the plan may end one problem, it creates another as Californians seek ways to deal with what some fear could be days and days of blackouts.

Catastrophe planning: Ensuring calm during the storm

From polar vortexes to tornadoes to wildfires and hurricanes, the United States has recently seen its fair share of natural disasters. In fact, according to Chubb, the average claim cost for a flood — the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States — increased by over 550% in the last five years, jumping from $50,000 to $290,000 per claim.

Editorial: To Address the New Normal, Disaster Relief Needs to Start With Prevention

(TNS) - In Congress, battles are raging over disaster relief spending. Who should get the help? Puerto Rico, still seeking emergency reconstruction money in the wake of 2017 Hurricane Maria (and yes, Puerto Rico is part of the United States and just as deserving of help as, say, North Carolina)? How about Hawaii, where volcanic eruptions have seen molten lava destroy homes, roads and other infrastructure? Nebraska and Iowa, which were inundated by some of the worst flooding in their history? California, trying to rebuild from the most widespread and deadly wildfires the state has ever seen? Or the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia, where homes and farms were wiped out by the violent Hurricane Michael last year?

Earthquake Law Could Financially Strain California Hospitals

(TNS) — California’s hospitals are scrambling to retrofit their buildings before “The Big One” hits, an effort that will cost tens of billions dollars and could jeopardize health-care access, according to a newly released study.

The state’s 418 hospitals have a deadline from the state, too. They’re racing to meet seismic safety standards set by a California law that was inspired by the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake, which damaged 11 hospitals and forced evacuations at eight of them.

By 2020, hospitals must reduce the risk of collapse. By 2030, they must be able to remain in operation after a major earthquake.

California Earthquake Early Warning System Gets an Early Test

California’s earthquake early warning system may have taken a step forward this week when officials conducted a test in downtown Oakland.

The USGS, in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the city of Oakland and Alameda County, issued Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) soliciting a response to a survey to about 40,000 people in a 60-acre block. It went well, but not perfectly.

Gov. Newsom Declares Wildfire Emergency Ahead of New Fires

(TNS) — Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Friday and waived environmental regulations to expedite nearly three dozen local forest management projects to protect communities from the deadly wildfires that have decimated regions up and down the state.

The governor's action marks the latest effort by the state to offset the possibility of catastrophe after back-to-back years of savage wildfires that killed more than 100 people and burned nearly 2 million acres in total. The projects will cost a total of $35 million, which will be paid with forest management funds in the 2018-19 budget.

Technology Wildfire Summit Highlights California’s Progress

Fighting wildfires has traditionally been a response driven by experience, but as conditions change, as they have in California, that response becomes more difficult.

Climate change has made the wildfire seasons in California longer and more severe, and that makes response that is based on history and experience difficult. But that’s beginning to change because of technology as more than 700 stakeholders learned this week at the Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit held at California State University, Sacramento.

A recent drought in California and global warming, in part, has led to increasingly intense fires that in 2017 and 2018 killed more than 100 people in 2017 and 2018, burning more than 875,000 acres. The changing conditions have resulted in a fire season that is nearly year-round.

Commentary: With Climate Change, Who Should Prevent California Wildfires?

(TNS) — Intense mega-fires have become the “new abnormal” in California. The wildfires are out, for now. Thank you, firefighters! But the fight over who should bear the costs of future damage compensation and risk mitigation is heating up.

Citing wildfire liabilities upwards of $30 billion, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the state’s largest electric utility, recently filed for bankruptcy. Headlines hail this the first of many “climate change bankruptcies.” But climate change is only one factor. These fires would not be so big if we did not send power through thousands of miles of tinderbox forest at high-risk times. Liabilities would not be so large if fewer people lived in high fire-risk areas.

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