L.A. not ready for disaster, says audit

LOS ANGELES Los Angeles is no stranger to disasters. The city has seen huge fires, floods and, in 1994, a deadly earthquake in Northridge.

"I know I'm definitely not as prepared as I could be, but I have taken some steps to prepare. Like, if an earthquake or something like that...just basic things. Things like flashlights, extra water, some canned goods," said Ariana Escobar, a Los Angeles resident.

Ariana is probably doing more than most to get ready. However, the bigger question is how prepared is the city itself.

"This is a city that does not have a clear vision. If you talk to general managers, they do not have a clear sense of what their mission is. We do not have strategic plans," said Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick.

Chick recently completed an audit of city departments. She checked how well prepared they were for natural or man-made disasters. Chick found each department had a contingency plan, but they were compiled years ago. In addition, the plans had not been updated and there had been no coordination between departments.

"Of all issues, or programs, or items where the city really must have a strategic plan, it would be in disaster preparedness. Because, in a disaster, everything falls apart," said Chick.

After the disaster in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, citizens are preparing themselves. However, L.A. residents are saying they do not know who they could rely on if their food or water ran out.

"I don't' know that I would be depending on...I don't know who I would depend on to come to the rescue," said Scott Graff, who works downtown.


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