‘Disaster can happen to anyone, anywhere’

Part 2 in a Series

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

As Kern County communities join the national Disaster Preparedness observance during September, members of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce were given information for how to prepare — and a first-hand account of what could happen if you don’t — at Tuesday’s monthly meeting.

“Everyone has been glued to the television and radio, watching what’s happening in our country,” said Suzette Caulfield, executive director of the chamber.

Watching the impact to millions as emergent situations unfold across the country, “I started thinking that, as a chamber, we are responsible for getting you the information you need to succeed.

“We want to make sure we are here not only when the sun is shining and everything is good,” she said. “The community can also count on us when there is a disaster.”

But considering that possibility is not something that most businesses, caught up in their day-to-day operations, think about very often. “We think about it when Texas is buried in water or the power is out in Florida.”

Last week the News Review outlined Kern County’s campaign to raise awareness for the region’s susceptibility to fires, floods and earthquakes, as well as resources for how to plan for an emergency (news-ridgecrest.com/news/story.pl?id=0000007421).

But at the chamber meeting, Desert Area Resources and Training CEO Jinny DeAngelis reminded members and guests that a “disaster” on even a small scale can have a major impact on a business.

“Disaster can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.” She recalled that a fire from a nearby automotive shop damaged the main DART offices, making the computer systems, files, records and software unavailable for 10 days.

“Think about how you would cope if you lost access to everything in your office.”

She and her staff were able to get through the crisis, but she noted that the experience demonstrated the need to be better prepared.

The DART team joined the Community Emergency Response Team, which offers training to businesses, organizations and individuals about how to prepare for and respond to a high-impact crisis.

“We are taking proactive steps at DART,” said DeAngelis. “I’ve also talked to people who don’t prepare at their businesses about what we have learned. What if you can’t get home? What if you had to stay for days at a time in your office?

“In the event of a widescale disaster, the fire department and the police will not be coming to help. You have to know how to subsist on your own.”

For more information, call the chamber at 760-375-8331.

Story First Published: 2017-09-15