By Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios
During the last eight weeks, the American Red Cross has launched historic relief efforts to help families devastated by three record-breaking hurricanes, and now, the most deadly wildfires in California history. Stretched thin, we have still managed to deploy over 19,000 Red Crossers nationally to these disaster relief efforts.
Recent catastrophic events remind us all about the importance of preparing ourselves, both practically and financially, for emergencies and disasters. Why? International studies of disaster risk consistently rank Los Angeles second, only to Tokyo, Japan, as the metropolitan region enduring the greatest risk to loss of life and property damage globally. The great risk in LA? Earthquakes. While our support of national disasters will continue for months to come, the challenge of keeping ourselves prepared in Los Angeles for disasters—particularly, for the “Big One”—continues with a constant urgency.
On Tuesday October 17, many of us at the West LA Headquarters had the pleasure of meeting with Glenn Pomeroy and Janiele Maffei from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), California’s publicly-managed, privately-funded nonprofit insurer for California homeowners against damage from earthquakes. Glenn has been the CEO of CEA for almost a decade, and Janiele is their senior engineer. Together, they are a leading, trusted voice for preparedness in California, reminding us consistently that earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning and can occur at any time of the year, day or night.
CEA is a Red Cross partner in preparedness, placing a high priority on educating California homeowners and renters about how to stay safe during an earthquake, and how to reduce the risk of earthquake damage and loss. One of the programs they promote stands to benefit qualifying Angelenos (and others around California) with critical financial assistance in preparing for earthquakes. Its name is simply, “Brace & Bolt.”
This Brace & Bolt Retrofit will, for qualified persons, cover up to 50% of the cost of retrofitting a home in California for earthquakes. In particular, expenses cover the bolting of a home to its foundation to keep it from sliding off during an earthquake, and a subsequent bracing of the house’s supports. CEA’s program also provides homeowners with a list of qualified retrofit contractors.
It is particularly important that owners of older homes—those built in the 1950s and earlier—investigate whether their house has been bolted or braced. Areas with larger concentrations of these older homes are the ones eligible for financial assistance. Check out the CEA website for info on whether your home zip code is included in their list!
Recently, too, we joined CEA in participating in the 2017 Great Shakeout—the world’s largest earthquake drill. This year’s event took place on October 19, where 10.5 million Californians simultaneously practiced “Drop, Cover and Hold On” at 10:19 a.m. Our partnership with the California Earthquake Authority and preparedness events like the Great Shake Out, are just one means to helping make Californians more aware of their earthquake risk. Just remember, when it comes to a large-scale earthquake in the Los Angeles area, it’s not if, but when.
Jarrett Barrios is the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. But, above all, Jarrett Barrios is a humanitarian with more than 20 years of experience helping people in need throughout the United States and Cuba.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org.