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California and Nevada are Disaster Buddies

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California and Nevada are Disaster Buddies

dee-grimm-rn-jdIn the social arena, it is often said what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” but when it comes to disasters, “what happens in California may well come to Nevada”, Ms. Dee Grimm, RN, JD, Program Manager, Nevada Statewide Evacuation, Mass Care and Sheltering Initiative, has said.

Some disaster management professionals like myfelf, believe that when California sneezes, Nevada catches a cold. This was very evident in the summer of last year when the Trcukee Meadows Valley was engulfed in thick smoke from hundreds of fires in Northern California.

In many ways, California and Nevada are closely related and can be seen as disaster partners, Ms Grimm explained. The program manager highlighted the fact that California and Nevada have a special geographic relationship that can not be ignored in planning for evacuations or mass fatalities.

In Western states as in Gulf states, the interstate system is of vital importance in planning for disasters because any large scale incidents can adversely spread or overspill beyond state frontiers.

Local hazard vulnerability analysis shows that the state of Nevada is vulnerable to wild land fires, floods, extreme weather andearthquakes. None of these hazards is as bad as having a population that is unprepared. “Complacency” Ms Grimm said, “will get more people hurt than any hazard we may face.”

Planning for disasters in Nevada is challenging because planners have to account not only for urban populations but also for a sparsely populated rural areas with minimal resources. In some counties there are dedicated emergency management staff, an in others, it is the the sheriffs who already have many other preoccupations.

On the issue of disclosure of evacuation routes and the locations of public shelters, the program manager said it is “tricky question”. She indicated that there are pros and cons for disclosure of shelters.

However, she believes that public shelters should be disclosed so you can decrease the change of people not knowing where to go and of exposing themselves to greater dangers of the hazard. Ms. Dee Grimm, RN, JD is the Chief Executive Officer at Emergency Management Professionals.