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Preventing, recovering from disaster in Cambria

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Disaster-recovery expert Ken Topping and other members of the Cambria FireSafe Focus Group want all North Coast residents to be completely informed and ready for any catastrophe.

In three previous informational forums this year, the Focus Group has addressed a host of do-and-don’t readiness issues.

The group is hosting a fourth session from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.

Topping (a former general manager of the Cambria Community Services District) will discuss more about preventing disaster losses and recovering after the catastrophe.

“Prevention and recovery are two sides of the same coin,” Topping said. “The more you prepare in an effort to prevent losses, the less difficult it will be to recover and get back on track after the disaster.”

He’ll also ask attendees for their questions about preparing themselves, their homes and their community for fire, flood, earthquake, landslides and other disasters, as well as about governmental rules that may need tweaking.

“We need to know where the gaps and overlaps are that make prevention a less effective crazy quilt,” Topping said in an April 9 phone interview. “I think there are a lot of holes, kind of like Swiss cheese.”

Cambrians have banded together in the past to advocate for change, including their successful campaign to temporarily remove the county permit fee for taking down trees deemed hazardous by Cal Fire. No healthy trees could be removed under this streamlined process.

At the forum, Topping and Focus Group members will answer any questions they can, and do research later to find answers to other queries, publicizing the responses later.

Those who have questions now can email them to group leader Shirley Bianchi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Topping also will discuss the plan to form a VOAD group (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) to help the community be more disaster-prepared. A sign-up sheet will be provided for people and organization that wish to participate in the VOAD process.

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