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County Called Unprepared for Disaster

County Bureau Chief

Orange County would be “in great danger” in the event of a flood, earthquake or other disaster because of public apathy and poor communication among government agencies, the county grand jury said Friday.

In its first report since taking office last July, the panel recommended that the county administrative officer be placed in charge if the chairman of the Board of Supervisors declares a countywide emergency.

The administrative officer would coordinate the efforts of county officials and the county’s 26 cities to cope with the catastrophe.

Pessa Klipstein, chairman of the grand jury committee that prepared the report, said the document was issued “because we are in great danger.” She explained that county offices “all have paper plans” to cope with emergencies, but many have conducted no drills.

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Need for Coordination

There is a need for “coordination across the county and even outside the county,” she added.

The report repeated a warning by a previous grand jury that the county’s primary radio and telephone communications facility and emergency response computer system in the “Manchester complex” in Orange “would be among the first facilities lost to any truly major flood,” leaving various government agencies unable to communicate.

The grand jury report was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the April 18, 1906, San Francisco earthquake and with a series of events around the state emphasizing earthquake preparedness.

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Before any emergency occurs, “all county agencies need to become actively involved in planning and coordination for emergencies,” the grand jury advised, and all residents of the county must become familiar with city and county plans to handle a disaster.


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