By Jarrett Barrios, Los Angeles Region CEO
2017 – an extraordinary year for natural disasters. But also an extraordinary year for Red Cross volunteers—and voluntarism.
The tremendous Red Cross response to Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria, along with the California wildfires, meant the deployment of more than 16,000 volunteers from around the country to complex disaster operations within challenging conditions. They also meant unprecedented expenses. While so much of the generous support from the American people came in the days and weeks that followed these disasters, in many ways the most critical support were the funds donated prior to any of these events. For the Red Cross, pre-disaster donations ensured we had resources, staff and planning capacity ready for each of 2017’s disasters. And, while we are fortunate that we did not have to respond to a major California earthquake through all of this, that readiness benefits our readiness for the biggest of disaster risks here in California.
One longtime Red Cross partner, the California Earthquake Authority, has been engaging the public in pre-disaster support of Red Cross for years. CEA has always placed a high priority on readiness. Led by the visionary Glenn Pomeroy, their mission is insuring against and educating Californians about damaging earthquakes. Because traditional homeowner’s policies don’t cover damage from earthquakes, the CEA’s earthquake insurance is critical to protecting the largest asset most Californians will ever have: their home.
Their focus, too, has been on how the public can reduce their risk of earthquake damage and loss with the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program—a grant program to assist California residents financially in seismically retrofitting older houses to make them less vulnerable to earthquake damage. The EBB program targets houses that were built before 1979 that have not been previously retrofitted to current building code standards. A brace-and-bolt seismic retrofit braces the cripple walls, if applicable, and bolts the house to its foundation, to help keep the house from collapsing or from toppling off the foundation. Properly retrofitted older houses qualify CEA policyholders for a discount of up to 20 percent off their earthquake insurance premium.
But that’s not all. Every year since 2012, CEA has supported the American Red Cross by sponsoring the Get Prepared, California! Auction. This year’s auction just launched, and runs from April 2 to April 30. As in the past, it will raise funds to help support Red Cross disaster relief and preparedness efforts right here in California. The money raised will help us distribute blankets, provide hot meals at shelters or out in communities affected by a disaster via our Emergency Response Vehicles and offer hygiene items to people who may have lost everything.
Since its inception, the CEA auction has raised over $1 million for disaster relief efforts. Thanks to the generous support of bidders and the efforts of CEA and iHeartMedia, which coordinates the auction, the funds raised in 2017 alone were $171,000. To learn more about the auction, or to make a bid, visit GetPreparedCalifornia.org beginning April 2 to bid, and please share this link with your friends, family and loved ones.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org