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PLATFORM : Be Quake-Ready

L.A. County Sheriff Sherman Block comments on the response by law enforcement and the public to the Northridge earthquake.

From a law-enforcement perspective, we were fortunate that the magnitude of the earthquake was not greater. The response system at the county level worked very well but was taxed to the limits. The loss of financial resources the last few years would have made it impossible to be as effective had the devastation been more widespread. County and city governments must steel themselves for a future drain on revenue sources.

The public was far less prepared than law-enforcement agencies to deal with the emergency--not having at the ready such simple necessities as water, food, flashlights and battery radios.

The L.A. County Office of Emergency Management has made available through many public facilities an earthquake survival program with at least a dozen pamphlets on preparedness in both English and Spanish. (For information, call (213) 974-1166.)

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The lesson to be learned before the Big One is stark, but real: People must be prepared to provide for themselves for several days following an earthquake, until official agencies can deal effectively with their needs.


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