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Riverside County Group Preparing Vulnerable Communities for Natural Disasters

Wildfire season is here and bi-lingual resources are available online for Riverside County residents to become prepared. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports one local non-profit is using trusted community messengers to prepare the Latino community for natural disasters.

Martha Carrasco, a retired civil servant, regularly canvasses her Jurupa Valley neighborhood handing out emergency preparedness information. Carrasco said for some in the Latino community, communicating in Spanish is preferred and there is also the benefit of receiving it from a trusted messegner.

"Some folks may not trust government for whatever reason, whether they are undocumented or whatever the case may be," said Carrasco. "It’s powerful just to know that you can get the resources out and disseminate them out to the community.”

Carrasco went through leadership training through Reach Out, a Riverside County non-profit focused on educational programming. Last year, Reach Out teamed up with Listos, a state funded emergency preparedness program to give out first aid kits and go-bags to the county’s most vulnerable to natural disasters.

Yarely Ortiz, Reach Out’s Community Outreach Specialists said they’ve found that the resources they provide are often the first that Hispanic families had been given in their own language.

“So providing that information really helps them think about it and pairing that along with a first aid [kit] or with a guide it really makes it an attainable thing that families can do,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz suggests a good place for anyone to to start is to sign up for emergency text message alerts from the county and follow emergency services like police and fire on social media. Also, once households do some research on preparedness, they should take the time to have a conversation with their neighbors says Ortiz. The more people who are prepared in a community the better.

For a guide to emergency preparedness visit listosriverside.org. The guide is available in the following languages: