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City Stocking Up on Disaster Supplies

You can’t expect folks to share their soap.

That was one of the lessons learned by the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department after the Northridge earthquake.

So, the department, designated as the city’s Emergency Operations Center, has begun stocking up on the smaller, hotel-sized bars of soap to dole out to individuals in the event another disaster sends Angelenos running to their parks for shelter.

In the year since the Northridge quake, parks department officials have formed think tanks to determine what supplies were most needed during previous disasters, what they ran short of and what was most difficult to obtain.

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They had even been trading thoughts with urban planners in the research center of Tsukuba City, Japan, until about a week before Kobe’s devastating quake.

“The idea here is to have enough essential supplies--not the food, but everything else that residents in our emergency shelter needed--to last for the day or two until emergency supplies arrive,” said Dick Ginevan, a parks department program manager and the man who oversaw the ebb and flow of supplies during the Northridge quake.

Besides the hotel soap, the department has been stockpiling everything from water and cots to baby bottles and diapers. Four Emergency Supply Depots have been set up around the city--one in the San Fernando Valley--while the department waits for the purchase of cargo containers to permanently store the loot.

Though the newest wave of preparedness efforts was spurred by last year’s quake, officials emphasize that the city is now better prepared for any disaster.

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“Fire, floods, earthquakes, even cold-weather shelter for those who need it--we have 150 rec centers around the city, no matter what happens in which area, we should be able to get a nearby facility up and operating for shelter and relief operations,” Ginevan said.

But, if the Big One hits, don’t expect a bath-sized bar of soap.


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