The City of Desert Hot Springs is prepared for dealing with major disasters affecting our residents. The City’s plan provides a framework for emergency management and includes close coordination with state, county and other city governments, the City’s senior management, tribal governments, partner agencies such as CAL Fire, our police department, local school districts, and private and volunteer organizations involved in emergencies.
Our plan is very comprehensive. The plan establishes the chain of responsibility, it assigns tasks, and it reflects specific policies and procedures that guide our advance planning, and most importantly, our response. When we think of disasters we often think of earthquakes and fires, but there are other threats to our City and to our own personal safety, such as extreme weather, hazardous chemical releases and explosions, terrorism, flooding and much more. Our disaster preparedness plan anticipates a wide range of possible disasters, not just earthquakes and fires.
The City’s Emergency Operations Plan reflects four distinct emergency management phases:
- The Mitigation Phase, which takes place before an emergency occurs, and is aimed to reduce the impact of hazards within the City that are a threat to life and property;
- The Preparedness Phase, which involves activities that are undertaken in advance of an emergency to develop operational capabilities and effective responses to a disaster, including emergency and disaster planning, training and exercises, and public education on preparedness;
- The Response Phase, which places emphasis on saving lives and property, controlling the situation, and minimizing the effects of the disaster. During this phase, the City will focus on a wide area of interventions, including medical care, feeding and sheltering operations, evacuation and rescue operations, public health, and restoration of vital services and utilities, including phone service, to name just a few;
- And finally, the Recovery Phase, which addresses procedures for accessing state programs available for individuals, businesses, and public assistance. The recovery phase focuses on getting our community back to normal, and it focuses on the recovery of disaster response funding. Short-term recover steps include the repair of damaged homes and property, expanded social, medical and mental health services, debris removal, and transportation route restoration, to name just a few. Long term recovery will focus on the coordinated delivery of long-term social and health services, and re-establishment of the local economy to pre-disaster levels.
The City’s Disaster Preparedness Plan was recently put to the test because of the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Hilary, and it passed the test! Because we have a plan, we were able to quickly mobilize staff and deal with the aftermath of the storm. A main priority was the reopening of Indian Canyon just south of interstate 10, which is our critical main route to Desert Regional Hospital. Working closely with the County, the state of California and the City of Palm Springs, we were able to very quickly make a temporary fix to the route that enabled the resumption of ambulance and other travel, and it was completed months sooner than originally anticipated. We are continuing to work towards a permanent solution that includes a bridge. DHS has now secured adequate funding and entered into contracts for the major repairs to Dillon Road and North Indian Canyon, and we are working diligently to reopen these roads so that businesses can get back to normal and residents can commute more easily again.
Our City government is fortunate to have a highly qualified cadre of professionals who are trained and will be ready to immediately step in during a natural or man-made disaster. As your Mayor, I will use my experience as a volunteer Fire Fighter to oversee our City’s response to an emergency. You have one less thing to worry about. We are ready.