Reviewing Emergency Management Officials’ Response To San Diego Fires
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Aired 5/21/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Darren Gretler, Operational Area Recovery Manager, San Diego County
Holly Crawford, Director, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services
What went right and what went wrong with emergency management in San Diego during last week's wildfires?
That's what the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services will be evaluating in the days to come.
Tuesday, San Diego County Board of Supervisor Chairwoman Dianne Jacob directed staff to evaluate the county’s response to the wildfires and draft an after action report to be presented to the board of supervisors June 17.
“We’re reaching out to our partners as we speak asking them for feedback to see what worked and what didn’t work to improve our plans in advance of our next fire because we know this will be a very challenging fire season,” Holly Crawford Director of San Diego County’s Office of Emergency Services said.
During the wildfires there was confusion over evacuations, shelter locations, complaints of long wait times for the 2-1-1 system and the county says a hacker is responsible for OES’s “fire in your pants” alert.
But improvements have been made since the 2007 and 2003 wildfires. Since then, the county has established a reverse 9-1-1 evacuation notification system, a cellphone app and uses social media to alert residents about county emergencies and disasters.
“I think the region did exceptionally well, I think if you look back to 2003 and 2007, the progression that our region made in terms with coordination and collaboration and dissemination of public information, its just an upward trajectory of progress,” Crawford said.
The county also launched the Spanish version of Ready San Diego’s Twitter account “Listo San Diego” May 15.
Recovery efforts underway
Tuesday, San Diego Supervisors voted to waive permit fees and expedite processing for fire victims who need need to rebuild. Darren Gretler, who is overseeing wildfire recovery for the county, said that could save homeowners a few thousand dollars
33 homes burned in the unincorporated area.
Gretler says they’ve connected with 25 homeowners and are helping them move forward by managing their cases.
“Given the relatively small number of fire victims compared to those in 2007 and 2003, we’re actually going to case manage them through any service—through any need that they might have that the county can provide. And then when we discover needs the county cannot provide, we’re going to connect them with volunteer organizations, the Governor’s office of emergency services and any other service we can find for them,” said Gretler.
The county has also launched a recovery assistance hotline and email address.
The recovery liaison office set up at the County’s San Marcos Branch library will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday.