Climate change in your area may manifest itself in gradual changes in average temperature, rainfall and dates of seasonal change. You may even be able to adapt to it over the course of years or decades. But for many areas, climate change will come in the form of more severe weather – extreme rain, wind, heat and wildfires. This will call for improved disaster preparedness and response, hopefully implemented through communities so that even neighborhoods have their own plans and resources.
Here in Marin we have an Emergency Services Office, managed by Chris Godley (portentious name) who – in the case of a disaster – would be in charge of coordinating the county’s response. He’s also in charge of planning and development of resources. But when it comes down to it, the responsibilities are with the citizens to prepare themselves for living through the aftermath of a disaster.
Godley observes that in spite of repeated warnings and persistent advice, we citizens are lax in our preparedness.
They are not prepared to deal with an event. They have neither the ability to get organized, to communicate with each other and they don’t have the financial resources to deal with an event when people start losing communications, they can’t get to work, paychecks stop getting automatically deposited and the ATM doesn’t work. It’s going to be ugly for a while. We in California have not experienced a real true disaster. We have had a lot of small, regional events, but we haven’t had the Kobe-sized earthquake event that we are really expecting here in the Bay Area, for example. That’s not necessarily going to result in the same trauma we saw after Hurricane Katrina, but we’re talking about as significant a physical, economic and social impact as Katrina.
Meanwhile, though, a program begun two years ago has trained more than 2500 county residents in local disaster preparedness and response. A recent survey of trainees indicated that the trainees, at least, feel more confident about their readiness than they would have been without the training.
Program respondents were more confident in their ability to protect themselves and their families, the survey indicated. In response to the statement “I have the ability to protect myself and my family from disaster effects,” the average rose from 2.51 out of 5, or “strongly agree,” in the pre-test category to 3.09 post-test group.
Statistically significant differences in scores on respondents’ sense of community were seen as well, surveyors noted. The average rose from 3.73 pre-test to 4.11 post-test, indicating that those residents who completed a Get Ready sessions felt stronger bonds to their community, surveyors said.