Yesterday’s copy of Then & Now Blog #9, first printed on 4-19-06 (six years ago) outlined a citizens-driven initiative that, for the first three years (2006-2009) grew to include over 100 CERT grads (30 of whom earned Ham Technician Class Licenses), represented over a dozen NERT areas in Petaluma, including one that met the criteria for a STAR Neighborhood (Safe+Trained+Alert+Ready). Since then, Petaluma ALERT, has declined in numbers as well as loosing its official sponsorship by the Fire Department. This pattern has also been repeated in other Sonoma County communities. Sebastopol is the only city with an active CERT program in the county, today.

Today’s blog (We Are Not Alone … EP-wise) was originally posted over five years ago on 9-7-2006. One of its major points was that, “government can’t do it all” in the event of a major disaster. The sixth anniversary of this blog will be in September. What ideas or suggestions do the citizens of Petaluma have so that the level of neighborhood readiness and preparedness that we had a few years ago may be restored. Please post your thoughts in the box for comments, below.

Part II – We Are Not Alone … EP-wise (9-7-2006)

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to brief the Petaluma 7-11 Lions Club about our local neighborhood approach for being ready for the next “big one.” At the Petaluma Valley Rotary Club last month, our Certified CERT Instructor, Bill Paxton, described the “Community Emergency Response Team” training opportunities that have been underway in Petaluma since last April, when the 100th Anniversary of the 1906 S.F. Earthquake was commemorated. That centennial event created both a newspaper and a TV media-blitz.

With 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina anniversaries, this month, the question “Are You Prepared?” is being broadcast far and wide, once again. For example:

*The 8-27-06 Press Democrat Editorial titled, Katrina Test- It will take another disaster to know if we learned the lesson. “In our private lives, we must make our own preparations, understanding that in the event of a major disaster, even the most efficient of public agencies may not be able to provide help for several days.”

*This was not the first PD Editorial to stress being prepared. On 2-2-06, the headline read: “Katrina response study suggests that government can’t do it all.”

*SF Gate.com (9-1-06) posted this message: After the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, a grassroots movement started to train volunteers to fill the gaps in city emergency services during the first 72 hours after a disaster … but I’ve been surprised that no one’s given much attention to NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Team) training.”

Well now, if my memory serves me correctly, it was Hurricane Katrina that motivated this blogger to investigate and explore how citizen volunteers might step up to the plate and help each other get ready. That was about this time … last year … 2005. One year later, approximately 30 citizens have completed a CERT training course and several NERTs are in the early stages of organization.

Today’s new blogosphere theme – Emergency Preparedness – has been created to keep you, our viewers, informed about how well prepared we “really” are in order to cope with an extreme disaster and how neighbors can help their fellow neighbors in such circumstances for an extended period of time. After all, that’s what building “a sense of community” is all about … isn’t it? Stay tuned.

Note: It is now, almost another three years later. Where shall we, as a community, go
from here? Your thoughts and comments, please.