Emergency Preparedness


“As power shuts down there is darkness and the sudden loss of electrical conveniences. As batteries lose power, there is the more gradual failure of cellphones, portable radios, and flashlights. Emergency generators provide pockets of light and power, but there is little running water anywhere. In cities with water towers on the roofs of high-rise buildings, gravity keeps the flow going for two, perhaps three days. When this runs out, taps go dry; toilets no longer flush. Emergency supplies of bottled water are too scarce to use for anything but drinking, and there is nowhere to replenish the supply. Disposal of human waste becomes a critical issue within days. Supermarket and pharmacy shelves are empty in a matter of hours. It is a shock to discover how quickly a city can exhaust its food supplies.”

-- from former ABC newscaster Ted Koppel’s 2015 book on power grid vulnerability, Lights Out

Councilmember Koretz joined Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas for the release of the Quadrennial Report highlighting the impact of climate change on the energy grid.


With accumulating problems from our City’s aging infrastructure, frequent predictions of a large, overdue earthquake, the security of our power grid, a dry, over-stressed and diseased urban forest due to nearly a decade of drought, the increase across the globe of extreme weather events and the spread of diseases -- both likely exacerbated by climate change -- Councilmember Koretz is focused on ensuring our neighborhoods, businesses and the City departments are all prepared for the myriad of challenges facing us.

Toward that end, he has launched several initiatives and introduced a number of motions which are intended to strengthen the City’s overall emergency preparedness and help create a more resilient and sustainable future for all Angelenos.


Infrastructure


UCLA Water Main Break


Photo courtesy KTLA News


One of the most imminent challenges in a large city such as Los Angeles is ensuring the reliability, safety and efficient use of its aging infrastructure into the future. Councilmember Paul Koretz strongly supports the necessity to adopt a progressive and diligent framework towards the maintenance and replacement of infrastructure. On July 29th, 2014, a massive water main break occurred near UCLA which led Councilmember Koretz to author this motion prompting LADWP to report on the causes of this rupture as well as present the Council with its infrastructure program to ensure it is adopting safe, affordable practices and protocols. This effort also led to this After Action Report by the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department. Within the report, the Emergency Operations Center revised and improved their operational elements to ameliorate the preparedness and prevention measures for future emergencies. Additionally, LADWP submitted this report to the Energy & Environment Committee, upon which Councilmember Koretz sits, detailing the work its crews did to replace the water main and to prevent future similar blow-outs. The Councilmember will continue to push LADWP to move its current status of a 300-year replacement cycle for water mains and pipes to its current goal of 170 years and better.


San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Leak


Photo courtesy: Nuclear Regulatory Committee


Energy production is another major issue that must be addressed when considering emergency preparedness. In January 2012, Southern California was faced with this struggle when the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was shut down due to a small radiation leak and safety concerns caused by wear in the steam generators. This created a large depletion in power supply as the plant usually provided electricity to 1.4 million homes. Southern California Edison, the utility who owns the plant, suggested reopening it at partial capacity while the proper measures were taken to get the plant back to full production levels. However, Councilmember Koretz offered a different perspective and used this as an opportunity to properly inspect the plant and address the issues that led to this shut down to ensure that this type of leak or worse would not happen again. As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article ,his resolution was approved by the City Council (click here to see his speech to the City Council). The City Council action helped with the mounting pressure on Southern California Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold public hearings about the problems. Documents were leaked and held up by Senator Barbara Boxer as further proof that Southern California Edison was aware of problems with the replacement steam generators but chose not to make fixes. Ultimately, the Councilmember’s concerns were expressed directly Andy speaks at 11:44, can we cue it to this? to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the February 12, 2013, public meeting in Capistrano Beach by his environmental deputy. Due to the enormous public pressure, Southern California Edison finally decided to permanently close down the Nuclear Power Plant in June 2013. The Councilmember also took advantage of this moment to encourage efforts to expand LADWP’s and Southern California’s energy portfolio and promote the renewable energy sector as a more sustainable and long term solution, which would help Los Angeles and the State of California with its commitments in achieving fossil-free and nuclear-free energy production.


Power Grid Security


photo from Creative Commons

As a public servant to the Fifth Council District as well as to the City as a whole, Councilmember Koretz recognizes his duty to protect the power grid’s security, reliability and resiliency from potential threats, which is why he authored two motions addressing power grid security in the City of Los Angeles. The Councilmember’s “Long-Term Electrical Blackout Preparedness” motion requests multiple departments to partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency to prepare a Long-Term Electrical Blackout Preparedness Plan for the City of Los Angeles. The grid security motion requests the Department of Water and Power to conduct a study to identify and address vulnerabilities or potential vulnerabilities to the City’s power grid. Renowned Journalist Tom Brokow authored a book titled, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, describing many of these threats and their potential impacts on society and can provide further information on this topic.


Community Preparedness and Resilience


Photo courtesy: Japs 88


Councilmember Koretz is very engaged in keeping his constituents and their communities prepared in the event of extreme weather or other emergencies. Council District 5, which includes large swaths of forested hillside communities, has a particular need to prevent and prepare for wildfires and mudslides.

One of the new innovative efforts toward community resilience sponsored by Councilmember Koretz is called the Cool Blocks pilot project, which promotes community-building, helps households conserve water and energy and thereby reduce their utility bills, prepare for disasters, and generally improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.

In addition, Councilmember Koretz has brought forward motions to the City Council regarding the health of our drought-stressed urban forest, wildfire prevention and threats from diseases. He also led the way for departments to come up with an El Niño Preparedness Plan in 2015. Despite the fact that the expected El Niño fizzled, the City is now better prepared for the type of flooding and mudslides that might have accompanied it.


Below is a list of recommended items that everyone should consider including in a basic emergency supply kit:

  • Food (at least three days’ worth of non-perishable food).
  • A battery or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries.
  • A functioning flashlight and spare batteries.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape to help filter contaminants and for shelter.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation.
  • Local maps.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  • Can opener for food.

This list was created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and for more information, tips or recommendations please visit their website: www.readyla.gov

To better prepare for earthquakes, fires, severe weather and flooding, extreme heat, extreme cold, flash flooding, landslides, power blackouts, tornados, hurricane, Tsunami, cyber security, terrorism, public health, transit safety, or hazardous materials, please visit the City’s emergency preparedness website: www.readyla.org


FIRE DANGER ALERT: Councilmember Koretz unveils the first of 50 new fire danger signs now installed in the hillside areas. He was joined by Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Executive Director, Joe Edmiston, fire officials from both the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Fire Division as well as local Homeowners Association leaders, community members and CLAW (Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife).



Wildfires


With the California drought nearing a decade in length, wildfires are becoming both more frequent and of higher intensity, especially in Southern California. Council District 5 includes many dry, open natural spaces from Encino to Bel-Air where there is high potential for wildfires. Councilmember Koretz highly prioritizes preventive measures to mitigate any potential human-caused wildfires, as they threaten surrounding communities, the air quality, our environment and its unique biodiversity. Toward this end, Councilmember Koretz installed the “High Fire Alert” signs mentioned above and introduced this motion, which was adopted by the Council in the summer of 2015, to ensure that adequate “No Smoking” signs have been installed and in optimal locations throughout all of Los Angeles City’s Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. Additionally, the motion increased the fine from $250 to $1000 for smoking in such high risk areas, as a strengthened effort to deter people from illegally smoking and potentially causing wildfires. Since this motion has been adopted, the public has been surveyed to gain public feedback on the necessity for more signs and for public recommendations on where to place them. Overall, Councilmember Koretz believes that active community vigilance is the best preventive measure against human-caused wildfires in an era where air quality and water must be preserved.


Cool City Challenge video from Vanessa Warheit on Vimeo.

To learn more about the Cool Cities Challenge, please watch the video and visit the website.

COOL CITIES CHALLENGE

Bringing Emergency Preparedness and Climate Action to Your Neighborhood


In order to create safer, more prepared neighborhoods, Councilmember Koretz is partnering with the folks from the Cool Cities Challenge and the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance on a pilot project to make Los Angeles the largest city to take on the challenge, beginning with two neighborhoods in Los Angeles who will set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020. Once we have ironed out all the kinks in bringing the program to big-city scale, the Councilmember aims to spread this ground-breaking program across the City, and help it accelerate across the Country.

The Cool Block program helps neighbors become disaster-resilient, planet-friendly, and community-rich. Using a state-of-the-art online platform, neighborhood block-based teams meet eight times in each others' homes over a four-month period, to adopt lifestyle practices that:

To learn more about the Cool Cities Challenge, please watch the video above and visit the website: http://www.coolcitychallenge.org/

If you would like to bring the Cool Cities Challenge to your neighborhood, please contact Andy Shrader in the City Hall office.


Health of our Urban Forest


Councilmember Koretz joins so many Angelenos who are greatly concerned about the health of our trees due to years of drought. Besides their simple, elegant beauty, trees provide many other eco-system services including flood protection, bird and animal habitat, protection against soil erosion, and canopy, which shades and cools our homes and neighborhoods.

Earlier reports of millions of dead trees across California prompted him to introduce a motion calling upon the Bureau of Street Services, who oversees the City’s trees, to report to the council upon the health of the trees in Los Angeles and how the City would be prioritizing trees as it implements its extensive new sidewalk repair plan. The motion resulted in this "State of the Street Trees" report from the Bureau of Street Services Forestry division, which essentially says that, on the whole, we are failing as a City to care properly for our urban forest. Councilmember Koretz has pledged to continue pushing for a strong master plan to care for all of the trees in our City.


Water Supply Security



water4

With the ongoing drought, Councilmember Koretz dedicates much of his time to developing new water policies to help Angelenos reduce their water use and more efficiently manage water resources. Please see the website: www.SaveTheDropLA.org for more information about the City’s work.

You can read an article here he wrote for the Jewish Journal, detailing his efforts on the drought.


The following are among Councilmember Koretz’s efforts:

Diseases


Ebola


Photo courtesy: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


As Texas reported the most recent case of Ebola, we are reminded that dangerous viruses are a severe threat which can quickly spread and can impact health workers as well. Councilmember Koretz addressed the potential threat by authoring a motion requiring the appropriate City Departments to report on the Ebola case in Texas and its Public Health implications with the desired outcome of safeguarding the health of City Residents and health workers should such an incident occur in our neighborhoods.


Zika


Photo courtesy: Flickr Creative Commons


The reports of the continuing spread of the Zika Virus, from South America to Florida and to Texas, have greatly concerned Councilmember Koretz. He introduced a motion directing the Emergency Management Department to report on current and future public health threats posed by the transmission of Zika within the City, and to report on the best ways to prevent the disease, particularly for pregnant women. Pregnant women who are infected can give birth to infants with severe birth defects and brain damage. Thousands of babies suffer deformities and much more.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported the Los Angeles region is already home to the Aedes aegypti mosquitos which can carry and spread Zika. There have been nearly 500 reported Zika travel-associated infections in California, nearly 100 in the City of Los Angeles, and at least three infants born in California with the birth defects associated with Zika. Additionally, many areas of Mexico are continuing to experience transmission of the Zika virus, including popular tourist destinations, like Cancun, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, and Mazatlan. The virus can also be spread through sexual transmission.



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