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Cal OES Walks The Talk

shakeoutCal OES staff joined more than 10.44 million Californians in ShakeOut 2014 on October 16!  California again takes the record for the biggest ShakeOut drill, even with worldwide participants rising to 26.1 million.

Cal OES encourages everyone everywhere to learn how to protect themselves during earthquake shaking, and to use ShakeOut to talk with their family friends and co-workers about disaster preparedness. And it’s not just idle talk… scientific research shows that these discussions are a big factor in inspiring preparedness actions far beyond “Drop Cover Hold On”.  ShakeOut is a chance to get prepared at home, work and in your community.

One aspect of what makes ShakeOut effective is that it’s fun! This year, Cal OES held a contest named “Show Us Your ShakeOut Drill”, asking employees to take a picture of themselves, friends, co-workers, colleagues, family, and/ or pets as they practice how to protect themselves during earthquakes. The beauty of the contest is that since people are not ALWAYS at their desks, people could demonstrate other ways they protect themselves no matter their situation, or where they are when the earth shakes.

Each photo was judged and received 1 to 5 points on Technique of Drill demonstrated, the location of the Drill and the creativity.

Many entries were received and today we’re proud to announce that Kerry Westerfield from our Public Safety Communications Office won the “Show US Your ShakeOut Drill” contest.

ShakeOut 2014 Contest - Photos[1]

Kudos to each and every one of you who participate in ShakeOut 2014! Practice makes perfect, let’s break another record in 2015!

California Flood Preparedness Week Kicks Off at Westmore Oaks Elementary School

This week is California Flood Preparedness Week and leaders from Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA Region IX, Department of Water Resources, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and the City of West Sacramento had the opportunity to talk flood preparedness with parents and students today during a news conference.  Speakers this morning included: City of West Sacramento Councilmember Chris Ledesma, Major Jeffrey Palazzini, Army Corps of Engineers and Darren Suen, Department of Water Resources.  Pic

Do you live in a flood zone?  Are you prepared for a flood in your area?

West Sacramento has been actively working to improve the levees throughout the city and helping residents and businesses prepare for and mitigate floods in their area.  After an award-winning outreach effort during the 2013 Flood Preparedness Week, West Sacramento was picked by state and federal leaders to host 2014’s kick off news conference.  photo 2

Leaders with expertise in flood protection, emergency preparedness and regional flood risk reduction efforts were on hand to talk to parents, students and teachers from Westmore Oaks Elementary School in West Sacramento.  Upon conclusion of the press conference, the 4th grade elementary students had the opportunity to take part in the second annual Flood Preparedness Week poster contest.  image

IMG_4618Last year over 90 students participated in a flood protection themed  competition and hundreds more are expected to participate this year.  Additionally, flood insurance representatives and city leaders were on hand to discuss flood protection projects with parents and business owners.

For More Information:

Cal OES Flood Preparedness Page HERE

California Flood Preparedness Week: 

Celebrating The Many Contributions Of America’s Workers With Disabilities

Only 17.6 % of persons with a disability were employed in 2013, in contrast to the 64 % of those without a disability.

This month, we’re observing the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

There are many people with disabilities who are independent and have successful careers, one of which works amongst us at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Richard Devylder leads the Office for Access and Functional Needs and today he was recognized for his great achievements in public service at the California Department of Social Services Disability Resource Fair and Awards Ceremony.


“Give people with disabilities an opportunity to interview and prove themselves and what they can do,” said Devylder. “It is our resposibility to prove that we are an asset.”

Devylder was appointed by President Obama in 2010 as the first Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He also has the distinction of having been appointed by Governors Brown, Schwarzenegger, and Davis to various positions that serve the disability communities

Born without arms and legs, Devylder was placed into the foster care system. Devylder remembers his foster parents as being instrumental in helping him make his own decisions when it came to his disability and learning how to do things on his own without prosthetics. For a glimpse into Devylder’s daily life, check out this video: A Day In the Life: Richard Devylder

The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities.” Said Sheri Ann Farinha, Chief Executive Officer of NorCal Services for Deaf & Hard of Hearing and award recipient along with Richard. “This year’s theme encapsulates this in three powerful words – Expect. Employ. Empower – which conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring, it’s about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation.”

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at

Three Weeks Left to Apply for SBA Disaster Loans

SBA Logo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Stephen R. Bangs, Acting District Director of the U. S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) San Francisco District Office, today reminded private nonprofit (PNP) organizations of the November 10, 2014, deadline to apply for an SBA federal disaster loan for property damage caused by the earthquake that occurred August 24.  PNPs that provide essential services of a governmental nature are eligible for assistance.

According to Bangs, eligible PNPs of any size may apply for SBA federal disaster loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.  SBA can also lend additional funds to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

In addition, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help eligible PNPs meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  EIDLs may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact.  EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the PNP suffered any property damage.  PNPs have until June 11, 2015, to apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan.

SBA low-interest federal disaster loans are available in the counties of Napa and Solana.

The interest rate is 2.625 percent with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or e-mailing  Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339.  For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit

SBA Field Operations Center – West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

Biola University, City of La Mirada and Los Angeles County Fire Department Test Responses to Major Earthquake During ShakeOut Exercise

LA MIRADA – The ‘Drop Cover and Hold On’ drill is usually the activity most associated with Great ShakeOut events conducted throughout California, the nation and world on the third Thursday of each October.
This year, a full-scale exercise focused on search and rescue and triage operations, as well as the activation of the City of La Mirada’s emergency operations center, served as the centerpiece of ShakeOut activities in Southern California.
The exercise began with a simulated magnitude-6.7 earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault and a warning via the ShakeAlert system, prompting members of Biola University’s Emergency Response Team to request assistance from the city’s EOC via radio.


L.A. County Fire Department personnel discuss the situation with a CERT team member during the City of La Mirada’s earthquake exercise at Biola University on October 16.

Following the arrival of L.A. County Fire personnel, search and rescue teams began extricating and escorting “injured” students wearing moulage to illustrate a variety of injuries to safe area where their injuries could be evaluated and treated.

“Colleges have the unique challenge of making sure students, those who are here today from all over the state to attend their school and reside on their campus, are ready for a disaster,” said Cal OES Southern Region Administrator Mona Bontty during a news conference prior to the exercise.

“ShakeOut not only provides everybody an opportunity to learn and practice the ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On” procedure, it also provides government agencies, educational institutions and other stakeholders a great opportunity to test and refine their response plans,” she added.

La Mirada has conducted a full-scale exercise that includes the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the American Red Cross and other community organizations each year since 1987, Emergency Services Director Andrew Vialpando said.

The purpose of the exercise, he said was to “engage entire community in disaster preparedness” and to “ensure the city remains disaster resilient.”

Members of Biola University's emergency response team attend to the "injured" during La Mirada's earthquake exercise at the university on October 16.

Members of Biola University’s emergency response team attend to the “injured” during La Mirada’s earthquake exercise at the university on October 16.

The majority of the university’s 6,400 undergraduate students live on campus, Biola President Barry H. Correy noted during his pre-exercise remarks.

The university “wants to be part of the solution, to make sure we have thoughtfully prepared for every contingency that might come our way,” Correy said.

“We want to be able to activate our emergency response teams today and through the activation.  We want to put them through a live exercise. What’s working, what’s not working, we want to be able to know,” said Biola Chief of Campus Safety John Ojeisekhoba.

“Secondly, we want to enhance our partnership with the city of La Mirada emergency operations center as well as all the other agencies that are here today with the full understanding that all the agencies that are here today, in reality, may not be here if the big one hits because resources will be stretched out and extremely thin,” Ojeisekhoba added.  “In all, we want to be able to assess our capabilities.  We want to assess our cohesiveness as a team.  What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses?  What are the opportunities out there? What are our abilities to manage emergencies to an acceptable level?”

Representatives of local, state and federal emergency agencies used the exercise as an opportunity to stress the importance of preparedness at the individual, family and community levels.

Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Deputy Director Leslie Luke noted that 3.4 million of the more than 10 million Californians who had registered to participate in ShakeOut were from Los Angeles County and OEM wanted to make sure everyone was prepared.

Luke stressed the importance of knowing how to ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On,’ having an emergency plan, an emergency kit to take with you if you have to evacuate, an out-of-state contact, emergency papers as well as knowing how to text in order to let loved ones know where you are and your conditions.

He noted that La Mirada is surrounded by the Puente Hills, Chino and Whittier Narrows faults and that the La Habra earthquake earlier this year underscores the importance of preparing.

“You don’t want to wait to the last minute to try to figure out what it is you need, what you need to do, and, if you have to evacuate your home, try to find those important papers and the information you’re going to need,” he said. “So we encourage you at home today to take those steps, practice this, talk with your family.  Don’t make this just a one-day event, but start with this seventh anniversary of the Great California ShakeOut and make a change in your life.”

Josie Arcurio of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also stressed the importance of preparedness. “I want to reinforce the message that individual and community preparedness is at the forefront and it is our best weapon against disasters, especially the undisputed champion of sudden disasters, earthquakes,” she said. “  We often, unlike hurricanes, floods and wildfires, have no advanced warning before the shaking starts.  It is imperative that we be prepared for these types of events.”

Working with its partner agencies, FEMA has “made progress in planning for massive earthquakes” and has plans for responding to two catastrophic in California, Arcuio said.  She noted that the plans have been exercised with Cal OES, local government agencies and nonprofit organizations and that the plan for a Southern California was recently exercised by FEMA’s National Incident Management Assistance Team with Cal OES Incident Support Teams and will be tested again in 2015.

American Red Cross Los Angeles Region Chief Executive Officer Jarrett Barrios also stressed the importance of preparedness.  “We want you to do three things to help us,” he said. “Get a kit. You’re going to call 9-1-1 after the earthquake and so are 5 million people in Los Angeles County.  You need to be prepared to take care of yourself and your loved ones for at least 72 hours.”

“Get a plan. Your cellphones may not work. You may not be able to text,” he said, noting that young people may view the inability to use a cell phone or to text a disaster.  “It might really be a disaster if you don’t have a plan.  How are you going to find your family?  How are you going to find your spouse? How are you going to find your kids or your parents?  Make a plan, one locally and one away from your home, so that you guys can connect.”

Lastly, Barrios urged the public to download the Red Cross’s earthquake app and to register with the organization’s “Safe and Well” website after an emergency so that family members will know where they are.

More information about Shakeout and earthquake preparedness is available at:

Then & Now – 25 Years after the Loma Prieta Earthquake

A quarter-century has passed since the 6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake. The Cypress Freeway in Oakland was the epicenter where most lives where lost during the quake and today the Cypress Memorial Park was the scene for hundreds to observe this important anniversary. Community leaders, elected officials, first responders and community members gathered to reflect on the day with a moment of silence, to honor those who lost their lives and the many heroes who risked their lives to aid others and to remind us how preparedness is the key for resilience.

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“The collapse of the 32-year-old Cypress Freeway–the first double-decker roadway of its kind in the United States–claimed nearly two-thirds of the quake’s 67 victims,’ said former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris. “Although neighborhoods went up in flames and communities from Santa Cruz to the Bay Area struggled with aftershocks and fallen buildings, it was the chaos on the Cypress Freeway that most riveted the public.”

When the ground began to shake at 5:04 p.m. that Oct. 17, the upper deck of the freeway slammed into the lower level for more than a mile. Motorists, many heading home early to watch the third game of the first-ever San Francisco-Oakland World Series, were trapped between the two decks, caught in pockets ranging in height from one to four feet.

The Loma Prieta quake tested the critical infrastructure of the Bay Region and showed the value and benefits of California’s leadership in seismic design of buildings, utilities and transportation infrastructure. During the earthquake, local responders identified the need for people skilled in urban search and rescue.

Loma Prieta also led to a review and overhaul of the Caltrans retrofit program, including enhancement of peer review to ensure performance. To date, the California Department of Transportation has spent more than $12 million dollars to retrofit 2,202 state bridges and overpasses throughout the state. The State has also developed plans for a coordinated response to catastrophic earthquakes.

The most important lesson learned is that we cannot become complacent.

“It’s important that all Californians understand that earthquakes may be inevitable, but they are survivable and everyone shares responsibility for being a prepared community, state and nation” said Christina Curry, Cal OES Deputy Director of Planning and Preparedness.

For that reason, we encourage all Californians to take the next step in their preparedness efforts at home and in their communities, including work and school.

Here’s a Demonstration of How Those with Mobility Challenges Can Protect Themselves During a Quake

Today, October 17, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta Earthquake so there’s no better time to remind those with mobility challenges to make a plan and prepare for the “big one.”

In this video, Cal OES chief of Access and Functional Needs Richard Devylder and colleague June Isaacson Kailes, Disability Policy Consultant Associate Director, Harris Family Center for Disability and Health Policy, demonstrate how to take cover during a quake.  Take a look and practice it, that way you’ll know exactly what to do when the next quake hits.


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