We were fortunate in most of WeHo during the just-ended storm cycle to have missed the worst of it. No doubt, the heavy continuous rain made life difficult for many, but the event did not reach a point where it could be labeled a “disaster”. Preparations at my house were minimal: placing a sump pump in the lowest spot in the rear yard, bringing out the hurricane lamps and prepping them for use, checking to see if I had enough Jameson to weather the storm, and making sure my CERT-organized emergency supplies were in good order. While I was tending to the latter, I thought of CERT’s (Community Emergency Response Team) origins in West Hollywood.
Early City Councils were most enthusiastic about the program, and after about two years of its existence, we had over 200 volunteers trained to respond to emergencies, especially during times when first responders from fire and other services would be unavailable. Because I was active in the emergency management trade, I was the lead person then and, with the city’s blessing, purchased three new shipping containers. One each of the large ones was to be placed at West Hollywood Park and Plummer Park. A smaller container was set up in the parking lot behind city hall for staff. They were filled with close to $30,000 worth of emergency supplies, including such items as portable fencing to erect temporary corrals for loose dogs and cats. An arrangement with PAWS would supply handlers. We also provided FEMA training for EOC (Emergency Operations Center) personnel at city hall and maintained a seat there to handle volunteer services.
All of the preparations were, of course, contingent upon the availability of trained volunteers, but our CERT program was sailing along quite well – until it didn’t. Over the ensuing years, I have sought an answer about the demise of a city-sponsored CERT program. Only stonewalling. My pal Kevin Burton, who maintains RECERT.com, and I were once allowed to view – from a distance – the city’s emergency management manual and to visit one unlocked, mostly empty container in a jammed facilities lot. I understand that the other large container is at Plummer Park, where it is somehow used during the farmers market day there. Sic transit gloria…
We now have an emergency management person at city hall who can let us know what the city will provide in terms of assistance during city-wide emergencies such as floods, fires, and earthquakes. Perhaps that person might also shed some light on the disappearance of all the once-assembled emergency supplies.