Disaster survivors share experiences, advice

The City Council, public safety department leaders and other city officials hear about what Laguna can do before, during and after natural disasters like fires.

April 14, 2011|By Barbara Diamond,

City officials and staff listened to recommendations from survivors of fires, floods and landslides at a workshop Saturday.

"We wanted to hear how people survived and what they learned from the experience," said Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, who led the meeting with Councilman Kelly Boyd.

Diane and Cort Kloke lost their home in the 1993, and again in 2008, to fires. Her advice: meticulously examine insurance policies.


Most people have no idea what it will cost to replace their home and are underinsured, she said.

"Rebuilding is generally a three-year process," said Diane Kloke, who said the little-known city policy that fast-tracks in-kind replacement shaved a year off their rebuild time.

That can amount to serious money because property owners' rent generally is covered for one year, after which they are paying rent, a mortgage and reconstruction costs, she said.

Diane Kloke recommended consulting with a builder about replacement costs and then visiting an insurance agent to determine coverage.

"The workshop was very educational," Pearson said. "People didn't come to complain. They came to give constructive input."

She plans to recommend the establishment of a standing disaster-emergency preparedness committee.

Boyd, who presented a history of disasters in Laguna Beach since the 1930s, said he would like to see trained disaster responders organized in Laguna.

"The most concern I heard was about ingress and egress, being able to get in and out of where people live," Boyd said.

North Laguna resident Gary Beverage is more concerned about how to energize efforts to prepare for a disaster.

"I was a member of an informal citizen disaster committee a couple of years ago," Beverage said. "We were told we had to take care of ourselves for two to four days. "Laguna is wonderful [at] coping with a disaster, but trying to get people excited about something that hasn't happened is difficult.

"I came up with this idea that we could get the three supermarkets to pack and sell boxes stocked with supplies, such as a non-electric can opener, and with food and water, date-stamped," Beverage said. "Every year, as the sell-by date comes around, the food could be donated to the Laguna Relief and Resource Center. They get food and you get a tax deduction."

Once a disaster strikes, the markets, two of which are adjacent to drug stores, could serve as triage centers, where local doctors could care for the injured, Beverage said.

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