County governments are not adequately prepared to protect vulnerable Californians from natural disasters, the state auditor reported December 5.
The auditor reviewed Butte, Sonoma and Ventura counties’ emergency planning practices and found:
“The three counties did not have complete, updated plans for alerting, evacuating, and sheltering their residents before recent wildfires – the 2018 Camp Fire, 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires, and 2017 Thomas Fire.”
“Despite guidance from FEMA and other organizations, none of the counties used key best practices for emergency planning to protect their most vulnerable residents during natural disasters.”
“None of the counties had completed an assessment of their populations to determine the needs that their communities will have during an emergency.”
“In developing emergency plans, the counties did not involve community representatives of people with a variety of access and functional needs to provide insight.”
“The counties did not assess the resources needed to assist people with access and functional needs during a natural disaster, such as accessible transportation and shelter resources.”
The California Office of Emergency Services “has failed to provide important resources to help local jurisdictions in planning, even though in some cases it is required to do so by state law,” the auditor added.