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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
What do you consider to be a natural disaster? Earthquakes? Hurricanes? Wildfires?
When Hurricane Katrina submerged parts of Louisiana, the resulting damage was something to behold. The economic impact was $250 billion.
Given a moment of rest to recover, Louisiana was better prepared when Hurricane Harvey came.
However, Texas was not. This time Texas was left with $125 billion dollars worth of damage.
It became clear that preparedness was going to play a role in economic welfare moving forward.
In 2018-2019, wildfires wiped out parts of the California coastline and faced a loss of over $400 billion. California had to begin adding to its index of disasters to prepare for. Earthquakes, Wildfires, and now, under the guidance of Governor Newson, the team at Listos California has included pandemics to its list. With their efforts, preventative measures along with preparedness material for potential disasters will become accessible to minority communities to mitigate damage.
At the EMS briefing on July 24, 2020, Listos community partners gear up for their campaign on wildfire awareness, which will prove to be more challenging this year with an ongoing pandemic.
“Listos California started as an early action of Governor Newson when he assumed office, in a demonstration of his commitment to support and invest in diverse and vulnerable communities,” mentions Justin Knighten, Co-chair of Listos California Emergency Preparedness Campaign.
Bill AB72 established Listos California, a joint effort between California Volunteers and Cal OES. With over 200 community partners and $50 million of funding, it aims to act on disaster preparedness. Listos is attacking the issue from multiple angles – engaging community media partners, putting out materials in different languages, involving youth leadership and various charities, and collaborating with first responders. The briefing included the Nicos Chinese Health Coalition, Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, and Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy.
However, one quick look over the campaign gives you insight into many of the vulnerable populations that are not being targeted. Languages addressed by the Listos campaign neglects many AAPI languages like Punjabi, Hindi, Tongan, Samoan, etc.
When asked to address this gap, Karen Baker, Co-chair of Listos California Emergency Preparedness Campaign said, “With only $50 million dollars, there was no way that we could cover educating ¼ of the Californian population that is considered vulnerable. Decisions were made to limit the campaign and focus on 24 counties…and allow materials to live digitally.”
It begs the question, is $50 million dollars enough to prevent disasters that cause 400 billion dollars worth of damage?
Either way, Listos California is attempting to get diverse populations prepared for any disaster.
In order to get prepared for a disaster make sure you have: alerts on your phone, a go-bag with an evacuation plan, and a stay-bag. Many of your children may be familiar with the protocol of packing ahead, as they practice disaster preparedness in school annually. Get them involved in your preparations!
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The material may seem familiar and basic but only 54% of the Californian population reports being knowledgeable about disaster preparedness and the Public Policy Institue of Calfornia found that minority communities are less likely to have a disaster plan. This data doesn’t account for the exacerbated impacts caused by a concurrent disaster. But unlike before, an impending disaster doesn’t have the be an economic drain.
So let’s take time, create a plan, and get ready! Text listosca to 72345 for more information or find materials here.
Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.