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Southern California Voices on the Earthquake: The Long Road Back : Lessons Learned

<i> Compiled for The Times by James Blair</i>

Aftershocks are keeping anxiety levels high as Southern Californians begin to put their lives back together after the Northridge quake. People who have always depended on our freeways are reluctantly turning to public transportation and discovering its many benefits. Others from areas not affected by the temblor are learning valuable lessons about being prepared. And who can leave out the many volunteers who have shown us that in order to cope we have to work together. A look at how people are doing.

SGT. BEN BOSWELL

Sheriff’s Office of Public Safety, San Bernardino

People would be better off if they had a plan and are prepared, particularly small business. Insurance. Retrofitting so products don’t fall off shelves and break. Inventorying materials. Backing up records, particularly invoices. We know that following a major disaster approximately 28% of small businesses will never open again because they were ill-prepared, and half of the remaining 70% will be severely impacted over the next three years.

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CARMEN NIEVES

Emergency services coordinator, Riverside

I think I’d like to comment on the older lessons that have been reinforced--the importance of people being prepared for such a catastrophe. After the Landers quake, I got a call from a person who wanted to know what the city was going to do for the citizens. “Where are you keeping the food and the water? Where is it stored for all of the citizens?”

With a population of 250,000, we have neither the space nor the money for that. Our response has to be to save lives and get the city back to normal.

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I really feel the general public thinks the government is going to be there the minute the ground stops shaking. And that’s not true. It does take time for us to get our resources and find out what’s going on and how we’re going to distribute those resources. People must understand that they need to be prepared, to have their neighborhoods prepared, to talk about what’s going to happen and where they’re going to go.

GLENNA KIPP

Owner, Glenna’s Balloon Designs, Santa Ana

I don’t think you could ever be prepared enough. There are a lot of simple things that can be done at the office as far as keeping books from sliding off shelves and bolting things to the floor. Compared with replacing equipment after an event has happened, the preventive measures are pretty cost-effective.

PAT PLEW

Owner, Kwik Kopy, Oxnard

Kwik Kopy’s a franchise out of Houston and we have what we call an “angel squad.” We absolutely help each other. As soon as my phone started working, I called to let them know that we were OK. They were already trying to call all the Southern California centers to see what we needed and how they could help. Like anything else, it’s simply a matter of being a good neighbor.

SHERRI MUNSEY

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Real estate secretary, Highland

Small businesses should be equipped with a generator to keep computers on line so they don’t dump their information. They need to stockpile supplies to take care of employees. Price gougers? I have no sympathy for those folks. I know things are in short supply, but gouging the public when they’re down is uncalled for. They should be run out of town on a rail.

JEFF BOWMAN

Chief, Anaheim Fire Department

One of the key lessons for Anaheim and Orange County is to recognize it isn’t just policemen and firemen involved in managing a crisis. It’s a huge pool of city, county, state and federal employees. And the key to managing people is having systems in place. You have to have a backup system in case things don’t go the way you expect. What happens if the Anaheim emergency operations center, for example, becomes rubble? Then what?


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