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County Gets Ready for Emergency

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Original Title:
San Joaquin County Disaster Official Calls for Regional Cooperation

San Joaquin County has experienced flooding in the past and knows it could happen again. A disaster official says the county is ready for the worst to happen, but better regional coordination is needed.

Although nowhere near the scale of what happened in New Orleans, the county experienced flooding in Stockton during the 1950s and Manteca in 1997. Ron Baldwin, who heads up San Joaquin County Emergency Services, said when a emergency arises, local, state and federal agencies are prepared to swing into action. "We expect the state and FEMA to respond and send resources," he said. "It's worked for a long time and will work again."

Baldwin believes California's mutual aid system can effectively move resources into areas stricken by disasters. However, he noted that the onus is on local government and agencies to identify needs and quickly convey them to the state, which then requests federal help, if needed.

Baldwin referred to his county's emergency alert system, which can disseminate disaster or emergency warnings and orders through the media and the Internet, as well as to schools and automated voice message systems.

Although he feels San Joaquin County is well prepared for flooding and other natural disasters, Baldwin warns that more work needs to be done. He says that a system to coordinate disaster response with neighboring counties is in place, but a number of issues persist. One concern is how to handle a large-scale evacuation of residents from one region to another. A plan still isn't in place, although Cal Expo in Sacramento County is one relocation possibility, as well as warehouses that might be available. "I'm resolved to complete that system," Baldwin said. "After seeing New Orleans, [it's] a reinforcement that it does happen."

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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