Skip to comments.CA: State agency says California unprepared for catastrophe
Posted on 04/28/2006 5:39:16 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Despite California's history of disasters, state government is underprepared for a catastrophic earthquake, flood, pandemic or terrorist attack, an independent agency warns.
Sweeping changes in the bureaucracy are needed to bolster readiness, the Little Hoover Commission said in a report that was sharply critical of the leadership in Sacramento.
"Prevention and mitigation efforts are lacking, California's response plans are inadequate and the state has no recovery plans to guide rebuilding," concluded the commission, an independent state agency that helps make state government more effective.
But Eric Lamoureux, spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services, said the state is already well prepared, its response mechanisms refined after each calamity.
"California has responded to more disasters than any state in the nation," Lamoureux said. "After every disaster we've made improvements and changes to the resources we have at our disposal and to the systems we have in place."
The Little Hoover Commission agreed that the state's history of natural disasters has prepared it well "for the emergencies that most frequently befall California."
But, it said: "The state has not even begun to plan for a catastrophic event that would quickly overwhelm local and regional response capacity, precipitate cascading disasters, destroy critical infrastructure and hobble commerce."
The 88-page report, sent to the governor and Legislature on Wednesday, offers a litany of problems, and a blueprint for preparing government for a devastating natural or man-made disaster. The commission had studied emergency preparedness in 2002, but decided to take another look after Hurricane Katrina.
The key problems and recommendations advanced by the commission:
-California has several emergency response plans on the books, but "has not put in place a catastrophic response strategy or a plan to implement that strategy." The state should develop such a plan.
-State agencies' responsibilities for disaster preparedness are splintered among many departments, resulting in confusion and overlap. The Gov.'s Office of Emergency Services and his Office of Homeland Security should be merged into a cabinet-level agency.
-The state has failed to spend emergency-preparedness money, mostly from the federal government, on wise prevention, mitigation and recovery strategies. The governor and lawmakers should insist that the money is spent wisely, in part by setting benchmarks that local agencies would have to meet to continue to receive money.
-California lacks "a structure and a strategy" for improving its response and creating accountability. It should require key departments to draw up performance measures like the federal government and some state governments have in place. It should insist that what it envisions as the new Gov.'s Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security submit an annual assessment of emergency preparedness.
The report's authors also suggested that the state revive its California Emergency Council, a body formed during the Cold War to advise the governor on emergency preparedness and approve response plans and orders. The council has not met often in the last decade, the Little Hoover Commission said.
Its membership should be expanded to include members of the private sector, nonprofit organizations, academic experts and the public, the commission said. And the council should oversee a "gap analysis" examining the strengths and weaknesses of the state's preparedness system for a major catastrophe.
"We welcome any review of how we respond to emergencies here in California," Lamoureux said. The Little Hoover Commission cited many areas for improvement that the Office of Emergency Services had already identified and was moving to reform, he said.
Why am I not surprised. The CA. state government figures the Feds will come to their rescue if there is a major disaster. Typical liberal thinking.
Ca is a big, bloated socialist state. It's not ready for potholes in its roads.
"unprepared for a catastrophe." Such as a major invasion from south of the border. (Border? What's a border?)
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