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Most Prepared City Campaign Needs You

Sandi Cain
Sandi Cain

In a recent column for the Independent, James Utt recounted his momentary panic during the recent Aliso & Wood Canyon fire when he wasn’t sure he remembered what he’d packed when he had to evacuate in 1993 when it looked like most of the town might burn.

He recounted the memory of that day even as he was watching our most recent fire threat, thinking he might have to leave again. Though evacuations were more constrained this time around, his viewpoint is one we all ought to consider: reviewing our go-bags and lists of household and personal valuables at least on an annual basis.

The Laguna Beach Community Emergency Response Team has been valiantly reminding residents about that since May, when we officially announced the “Most Prepared City” campaign, under the auspices of the emergency operations coordinator Jordan Villwock and endorsed by the City Council.

We want to make Laguna Beach the most prepared city in Orange County. To do that, we have been urging residents to join the campaign by taking a pledge online to be more prepared for emergencies. The pledge includes a promise to make an emergency kit and have a family plan (for people and pets). The family emergency plan should denote places family members can meet (if not at home) and where you might go if we truly must leave town.

The pledge itself—similar to the successful Laguna Beach Water District Waterwise campaign—is one way to demonstrate that we in Laguna Beach do indeed remember the fires, floods, mudslides and other disasters that have befallen our city. It can be found at

But this effort also serves to educate newer residents about those events to make them aware that readiness isn’t a scare campaign but an honest effort to encourage every single resident to be ready to go within roughly 15 minutes of a notice to evacuate. Even if you have a plan and go-bags, test your plan someday. Do you remember where all those things are that you want to toss in the car? Can you round up the dogs/cats or other pets quickly and get them in carriers?

Newer residents who stop by our CERT booths promoting this program are sometimes astonished at flyers that show the destruction from 1993 fires. “Was that in Laguna Beach?” they sometimes ask. Yes, folks, it was. And while we don’t want to be seen as your grandpa saying “back in my day …,” we do want everyone to be aware that it can indeed happen here. It has before and may happen again.

Stop by one of the CERT booths or go to the website noted above to sign the pledge online—and then make sure your own kits and plans are ready to go when you need to. If you stop at a booth, you can give the CERT members the basic information on the spot—and when you do that, you get your choice of a free item to add to your go-bag!

Please note that no personal information from this pledge is shared. You simply enter your last name only (even that is optional), your street name (not house number) and closest cross-street. Then click the two boxes that indicate you agree to make a plan and have a kit and click submit. You can even download templates from the site that provide sample lists of contents for go-bags, first aid kits and suggested information for family plans.

Another easy thing to do is to sign up for Nixle (, which provides text alerts specific to your zip code. Simply text zip code 92651 to 888777 to opt-in to this system. If you want alerts for other zip codes such as your work location or where family members live, text each zip code relevant to you separately to 888777 and you will receive those alerts, too.

We are hoping to get roughly 2,800 households to sign the preparedness pledge by Oct. 27, 2018. For some of you, Oct. 27 is ingrained in your memory. For our newer neighbors, this year that date will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1993 fires that destroyed 400 homes. What could be a better example to share with the world than to show we are commemorating that disaster by taking action to be ready for future fires, floods, mudslides or other disasters? Please take the pledge today online, or stop at a CERT booth at the farmers market, one of the grocery stores, or other locations you see around town and do it right then and there.


Sandi Cain is outreach chief for the Laguna Beach CERT board. Reach CERT at [email protected]



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