On Friday, August 15, Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), in partnership with Building Resilient Communities, hosted the second annual “Ark of Safety Forum” emergency preparedness program. The event brought together community leaders and representatives from various faith-based and government groups in an effort to improve disaster response planning for the Inland Empire.
“We all know that when major disasters strike, the demand for assistance is overwhelming,” said Morrell. “People look everywhere for help, including houses of worship, which are in every neighborhood. They become natural safe havens in emergencies. The Ark of Safety Forum builds on this role by improving communitywide coordination with first responders and government services.”
During his opening remarks, Senator Morrell highlighted the critical part houses of worship play during disasters. He noted that the lasting images in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are of people isolated from the resources and the assistance of government disaster response agencies.
San Jacinto City Councilmember Scott Miller delivered the forum’s keynote address, sharing his first-hand experience working with relief organizations during Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. Other elected officials in attendance included San Jacinto Mayor Alonso Ledezma, San Jacinto Mayor Pro Tem Crystal Ruiz, San Jacinto City Councilmember Mark Bartel, and Banning Mayor Pro Tem Art Welch.
After the general session, participants attended workshops covering topics such as feeding and sheltering the public and a demonstration by the Riverside County Fire Department’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Representatives from the local Voluntary Organizations in Active in Disaster (VOAD), Riverside County Office of Emergency Services, American Red Cross, Community Access Center, and Multi-Joint Action Advisory Group were also on hand.
“Time and again, government cannot always meet the needs of the people all on its own – especially during a major event like a flood or an earthquake,” said Morrell. “Collaboration and networking amongst emergency personnel, local leaders and faith-based organizations is critical to ensure that people receive the basic assistance they need following a disaster. My hope is this event proved beneficial to all who attended.”
The 2014 Ark of Safety Forum took place at the San Jacinto Assembly of God.