Valley News -

County disaster mitigation plan passes muster


Last updated 9/18/2018 at 2:36pm

RIVERSIDE - Riverside County supervisors signed off Tuesday, Sept. 18 on a plan drawn up by the Emergency Management Department and designed to ensure that the county, cities, federal and state agencies are working together effectively in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

"Riverside County cities, tribes, communities and special districts share the common goal of becoming a disaster-resistant county,'' according to an introduction to the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. "This plan is ... to help build and sustain collaboration with federal, state, tribal, territorial and community partners through a strategic framework that guides day-to-day work leading to more resilient communities nationwide.''

According to EMD officials, the plan has a five-year lifespan and is required to be certified by the California Office of Emergency Services, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in order for the county to qualify for state and federal pre-disaster aid.

Officials noted that since 1965, the county has been the subject of 44 federal disaster declarations related to droughts, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and similar upheavals.

The plan looks at how future weather shocks and catastrophes might impact different areas of the 7,200-square-mile county and what havoc they might wreak on infrastructure, public safety, medical services, commerce, agriculture, and schools.

Along with natural disasters, the plan puts emphasis on preparing for potential acts of terrorism, large-scale civil disorder, dam failures, and mass contamination from chemical leaks or spills.

However, quakes were at the top of the priority list, which indicated that one or multiple segments of the county -- or locations within what is now county jurisdiction -- have sustained damage from 18 shakers between 1812 and 2010.

"There are several known active and potentially active earthquake faults (in the county), including the San Andreas Fault, the San Jacinto Fault and the Elsinore Fault,'' according to an EMD statement. "A major quake could happen at any time.''

Economic and infrastructure losses from a magnitude 7.8 quake

emanating from the San Andreas Fault could exceed $17 billion countywide,

officials said.

Preparation for worst-case scenarios must include strict enforcement

of building codes, retrofitting structures whenever possible, investing in

resources and training to ensure readiness for contingencies, and public

engagement to solicit input and raise awareness about disaster preparedness,

according to the EMD.

The agency's entire 870-page report is available here:

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