San Francisco, Calif. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will welcome the County and the City of Santa Barbara, California, as the newest member to the agency's Project Impact initiative - a national effort to change the way America deals with disasters.
A formal signing ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7, 10 - 11:30 a.m., at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center in Santa Barbara.
"The motive for Santa Barbara is obvious," said Harriet Miller, Mayor of Santa Barbara. "This partnership corresponds with the goals of our city and county, in which public safety is top priority. Disaster-resistant communities are able to withstand calamity with far less loss of life and property."
The area has been susceptible to disastrous floods, such as those that occurred in 1995. Local governments took preventive steps, thereby lessening the impact when the El Ni?o storms caused more flooding in 1998.
"Our county, with its mixture of urban and rural areas, is very vulnerable to the personal and economic damages brought by disasters. So we welcome this opportunity to become even more well prepared for the future - particularly to assist those populations with special needs," said Naomi Schwartz, 1st District Supervisor and Chair of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
"We applaud both the City and the County of Santa Barbara for their commitment to reducing damage risks," said Martha Whetstone, Regional Director of FEMA Region IX in San Francisco. "Communities - and in particular, those in Southern California - need to be well-prepared for disasters that we know will come."
Besides FEMA, Santa Barbara's numerous Project Impact partners will include the State of California, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County American Red Cross and the Arthur D. Little consulting firm.
Three common-sense principles are the basis of Project Impact: mitigation at the local-community level; participation by the private sector; and long-term preventive measures.
"Project Impact is a great example of a cooperative partnership between the private and public sectors," added Whetstone. "The success of the emergency management process depends upon this type of team concept."
Partners in Project Impact agree to reduce the risk of damage to their facilities, to provide emergency training and special services for employees, and to render technical assistance, financial resources or in-kind services to other segments of their communities.
In addition to Santa Barbara, nationwide there are now 117 communities participating in Project Impact. In California, these include the City of Oakland and the County of San Bernardino.