By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media
Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) announced that the state’s emergency preparedness campaign, which was launched last August, has surpassed the goal it set to engage at least one million socially vulnerable Californians. The campaign, titled “Listos,” which means ready in Spanish, provides the communities it targets with accessible, in-language, and culturally competent disaster readiness information.
Along with California Volunteers, another state-managed program, Listos California, which is anchored at Cal OES, has armed more than 1.6 million Californians with information they would need if there were a natural disaster or other large-scale emergency. Californians who are aging adults, people with disabilities, those living in poverty, as well as people with language barriers, were groups prioritized in the program’s outreach.
“We know that 88% of vulnerable populations understand that they need to get prepared and they don’t because they find it scary, time-consuming and often expensive. But we’ve been able to overcome these perceptions, hurdles, and tackle these challenges. This is a direct result of a new approach and tireless work of our partners, our trusted community-based organizations that service our most vulnerable,” Newsom said.
Cal OES credits the campaign’s success to Listos California’s strong network of 300-plus local partners, effective communications efforts, and a broad statewide strategy that balances local flexibility with clear standards of accountability.
In August 2019, Cal OES and California Volunteers announced that Listos was awarded $50 million in local disaster resilience grants to launch the state’s new emergency preparedness campaign.
California is still struggling in the throes of the unprecedented dual challenges of raging wildfires and a global pandemic, the state says. Because of that, it is a relief to know that hundreds of thousands of people in 24 counties across the state — where Listos California had the strongest impressions – are better prepared in the event of an emergency that could make these bad situations worse.
A majority of Listos engagements were made in more disaster-prone and highly populated areas of the state such as Alameda, Riverside, San Bernardino, San
Diego, and San Francisco counties. The state-led effort has equipped nearly 1,607,570 Californians with crucial disaster preparedness information, according to Cal OES.
Listos California partners include a statewide network of community-based organizations, Community Emergency Response Teams (or CERTs), AmeriCorps, National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), veterinary organizations, Fire Safe Councils, and management teams to ensure the state’s most vulnerable are ready when disaster strikes.
California Black Media was among the paid media partners enlisted to reach African American audiences throughout California.
State lawmakers provided the funding for emergency preparedness more than a year before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic through Assembly Bill 72, the “Budget Act of 2018.”
Gov. Newsom approved it in February 2019.
Listos outlines five steps for emergency preparedness: make a plan for protection, pack a Go Bag of necessities, build a Stay Box for extended stays away from home, help friends and families, and check alerts at CalAlerts.org.
“Go to the website ListosCalifornia.org to register for a free, 20-minute online training,” Newsom urges residents of California. “Sign up for easy to access text-based tips that go directly to your phone.”