Article City Forum

Resources for Disaster Preparedness

Careful planning is the best way to prepare your city for a disaster, whether it’s natural or manmade. Your toolbox should include a crisis communications plan, protocols for declaring a state of emergency, procedures for securing vital public records and techniques for educating the public about what to expect and how to be ready when a disaster strikes.

There are numerous resources available for local officials available online, including the following:

  • A paper titled “Emergency Preparedness” provides a comprehensive overview of the law related to disaster preparedness and planning. Written by Jonathan Lowell, city attorney for San Luis Obispo, it contains examples of the ordinances, resolutions and related documents needed for a city to quickly declare a state of emergency.
  • The Citizen’s Guide to Flooding and Flood Recovery is a downloadable document on the City of Napa website (, which has a “Weather and Flood” page that provides a wealth of information for community residents and businesses about city emergency operations, evacuation procedures, what to do in an emergency and more.
  • Information in English, Spanish and Chinese about how to plan for emergencies such as earthquakes, fires, severe storms, power outages and acts of terrorism is available from the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Emergency Services website at (For more about this project, see “Preparing Your City and Citizens for Disaster,” page 8.)
  • The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services ( provides comprehensive information on disaster training, response, recovery and mitigation. The site offers numerous emergency management resources for local government and residents.
  • The LeaguE-Campus online training program includes a 16-minute video titled “Elected Officials’ Role in Providing Homeland Security.” It examines such issues as communications, interoperability, first responders, interagency coordination, planning, training and more, and is available online at

The rule of thumb for disasters is prepare, prepare, prepare. Is your city ready?

This article appears in the February 2006 issue of Western City
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