South Lake Tahoe may be classified as a rural community by the state of California, but that isn't keeping the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) from taking an interest in the city's safety. More than half a dozen local agencies are working with the OHS to accomplish a city-wide disaster exercise that will encompass both California and Nevada.
â€œThis is so beneficial to South Lake Tahoe to have the Office of Homeland Security spending their time and money helping this part of the Tahoe Basin become more disaster ready,â€ said Darcie Carpenter, Ph.D., Emergency Management Coordinator and Safety Officer for the Barton HealthCare System. â€œNormally OHS would be spending their resources on metropolitan areas like San Francisco, San Diego or Los Angeles but because of our tourism base, they recognize how important and vulnerable we could be in the event of a natural or man-made disaster,â€ she said.
Meetings began last month with the OHS and such agencies as the Barton HealthCare System, South Lake Tahoe Fire Department, South Tahoe Police Department, Red Cross, State of California Office of Emergency Services, Sierra Pacific Power Company, Nevada Department of Emergency Management and the El Dorado County Public Health Department. An all-day emergency disaster exercise will be conducted in November of 2008 that will be financed by and coordinated by the OHS. The OHS's annual disaster exercise program is known as Golden Guardian. The cities of Stockton, Los Angeles and Santa Clara are the sites of their November 2007 Golden Guardian exercises. The November 2008 Golden Guardian exercise that includes South Lake Tahoe will be the second largest in the nation in scope and expense.
â€œWe are so fortunate that Homeland Security has taken an interest in our city and is focusing its resources to help us evaluate our response planning and resource response inventory in a well-planned disaster exercise so that all involved agencies will get the necessary training should a real disaster occur,â€ said Lorenzo Gigliotti, Fire Chief for the City of South Lake Tahoe.
A December meeting will take place in South Lake Tahoe where specific objectives for the 2008 disaster exercise will be identified by the planning team. The after effects of a major earthquake, including a Seiche, is the anticipated â€œdisasterâ€ that will be the focus of this exercise. A Seiche is a lake version of a Tsunami.
A March meeting is also slated and as the November 2008 exercise draws closer, monthly meetings are anticipated.
For more information or for other agencies that want to participate, contact Carpenter at 543-5541.