Wilmington Emergency Preparedness Plan

  • 06/23/2017
  • Reporters Desk

By Jesse N. Marquez, Founder and Executive Director of Coalition for a Safe Environment

A Wilmington Emergency Preparedness Plan and Community Evacuation Maps are being prepared by the Coalition For A Safe Environment from a grant awarded by The Harbor Community Benefit Foundation.   What makes this project unique is that a community organization is leading the project with a Wilmington resident Community Advisory Committee participating to assure that information and maps prepared can be easily understood by residents in a real emergency.

Port harbor communities face unique challenges when it comes to preparing for natural disasters and industrial accidents, which can occur at a port or as freight is being transported out of a port to a customer.

The general public is accustomed to hearing news about earthquakes and preparing for the “Big One,” but how do you prepare for a Tsunami? We are always told that a big Tsunami can never occur here but that is not necessarily true, one can occur if there is nearby offshore underwater earthquake and if there is supper large earthquake up in Alaska, which sends waves down the western U.S. coast.

A Tsunami out at sea can travel as fast as 500 mph, can be over 100 feet tall and travel miles inland.  You cannot outrun a Tsunami when it arrives on a coast and a Tsunami destroys everything in its path.  These are some of the real facts we have to consider.

The Port of Los Angeles has petroleum marine terminals, which import jet fuel, gasoline, diesel fuel, ship bunker fuels and partially refined fuels. These get processed to meet California’s strict air pollution standards. What do you do when an earthquake hits and a ship is unloading jet fuel at a dock. The reality is that the ship and storage tanks on the dock will probably blow-up and burst into flames.

What do you do if a big rig truck traveling north on the Harbor Freeway crashes or a train on the Alameda Corridor derails and they are carrying barrels of toxic chemicals, which turn into a toxic gas cloud when released into the atmosphere?

What if the earthquake hits at night, there is no power, all the lights are out, you are a single mother with four children and the car is not running, what do you do?

These are some of the challenges, questions and ideas that are being researched by this grant project team.   The project has created a Wilmington Community Advisory Committee so that residents understand the difficulty in finding solutions and can participate in choosing the best alternatives.

The project will create a Wilmington Emergency Preparedness Plan in English and Spanish for residents to use to assist them in preparing their families for a major disaster or emergency.  Six different Community Evacuation Bilingual Maps will be designed and printed, one for an earthquake, tsunami, truck crash, train derailment, petroleum terminal incident or port property chemical release.

The project, when near complete, will also be presented to the Port of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles and other governmental agencies for their review and comment.   The project is expected to be completed by October 2017.

It is the Coalition For A Safe Environment’s plan to submit an additional grants to prepare an Emergency Preparedness Plan and Evacuation Maps for all harbor communities with the next being San Pedro.

Details: (310) 590-0177, jnm4ej@yahoo.com.