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Imagine this situation — the first time you visit New York City it just happens to be on 9/11. The second time you visit is during Hurricane Sandy, and the third time, would you even go back?  The man we’re going to talk to today experienced that string of disasters and suddenly found himself leading the initial emergency response to those historical events. He’s a UC Davis alum and 5th generation San Franciscan.
Robert J. Fenton, Jr. was appointed Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IX in July 2015.  Since joining FEMA in 1996, Mr. Fenton has played a significant role in numerous large-scale response and recovery operations in the U.S. and has responded to more than 50 Federal disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, the four Florida Hurricanes of 2004, the Southern California Wildfires of 2003 and 2007, the Super Typhoon Pongsona in Guam, and the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
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Links

FEMA's Mobile App

https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

Urban Search and Rescue

https://www.fema.gov/urban-search-rescue

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Retired Los Angeles City Fire Battalion Chief Larry Schneider's long and storied career began during World War II. He didn't retire until 2007, just shy of his 80th birthday; he says he could have performed his job well for another five years but felt it was time for him to settle down.

We met Mr. Schneider at his home in the hills of LA and spent a wonderful afternoon talking with him about everything from the early days of his career to the Northridge Earthquake.  Take some time to listen to his stories and then check out the links below for some really great photos from his past.


Click here for the story of how Larry Schneider's life was saved, and the great photos of the scene and his hero afterward.



Click here for historical photos of Schneider and his station.


Photo: Photos:Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive


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In this episode Cal OES Coastal Region Administrator talks about the merging of data science and technology and how emergency managers and responders get surprisingly effective help from free phone apps. She also talks about how the state was able to reduce the financial impacts of the Napa quake and keep the important wine industry flowing. Plus, she candidly discusses her way of handling emotionally draining disasters such as the San Diego Fire Siege of 2007 and the San Mateo Floods in 2015, and how she's able to face angry citizens when they accuse government of not doing enough for them in times of crisis. 


Jodi Traversaro has worked for the State for more than 20 years. Traversaro came to Cal OES from the California Department of Human Resources, where she oversaw training and performance management. She worked for Cal OES from 2005 to 2008 where she served as the Director of the California Specialized Training Institute, led the Public Information Office during the response and recovery for the 2007 Southern California Wildfires, Chief of the Legislative Affairs Office and served as an Executive Duty Officer.


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In this episode we sit down with Andrew Lockman, Tulare County Emergency Manager. Lockman has been on the front line in the drought battle, with California now enduring its 5th year. Tulare County, specifically the town of East Porterville, is considered the epicenter of this natural disaster; it's where several thousand people have been without drinking water in their homes because their wells went dry. Emergency officials from the county and state, as well as non-governmental and volunteer organizations and individuals, have all been working to bring relief and solutions as quickly as possible. But it wasn't until things got to this point that it was recognized as a disaster; it slowly sneaked up on everyone. And droughts weren't in disaster plans so emergency managers had to wing it; they had no playbook to which they could refer. Lockman tells about the incredible challenges he and others faced to help the residents now, and the lessons learned and changes being made for future droughts. 

Drought Resources

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

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In this episode retired Santa Monica fire chief Jim Hone reflects on the Northridge Earthquake and the challenges that kept hitting them, one after another. Whether it was the need to evacuate a major hospital, an incident command that had no power, major delays in mutual aid, or his own fire station that was on the verge of burning down, Hone and others kept their eye on the ball in order to stay in front of it. 

Hone joined the Santa Monica Fire Department in January of 1980, and served as chief beginning in 2003 until he retired in 2010.

Prior to serving as fire chief, Hone worked as a firefighter and paramedic, fire captain, chief of the Support Services Division and fire marshal. During his career he responded to six federal disasters to help locals and coordinate FEMA USAR resources including the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center attacks in New York City on September 11th, 2001.

Notable projects he worked on include the replacement Fire Station 2, and the development of the Urban Search and Rescue and Hazardous Materials Response Teams. Hone served six years in the U.S. Air Force as a fire protection crash rescue specialist before joining the SMFD.
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In this episode (#11) we sit down with Mona Lisa Bontty. She serves as the Southern Regional Administrator, which includes managing emergency management and response operations in a region that spans 11 counties, nearly 65,000 miles and serves a population of over 21,000,000 residents.

Mona talks about the challenges of managing emergency response in a region as large and diverse as hers. She also talks candidly about her unique ability to relate to citizens with Access and Functional Needs due to her own AFN connection.

Since her appointment as Regional Administrator in August 2013, Mona has overseen response to various emergencies including fires, earthquakes, floods, drought, a terrorist attack, oil spills and wind events.

Mona has over 24 years of experience in state service including positions with various leadership roles in environmental mitigation and remediation of hazardous cleanup sites, community engagement and leading strategic planning for operational initiatives. She is a certified Emergency Manager with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and a UCLA undergraduate degree in Psychology. 

Related Links:
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More than 350,000 households were evacuated at the height of the siege, meaning the evacuation could have included more than 900,000 people. Qualcomm Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, became the evacuation center for thousands of people. It was a brilliant move but not without its many challenges, including how to treat the many who suffered from health and medical problems.  

Dr. James Dunford was the chief medical doctor there, the medical incident commander if you will, and his job was to manage both patients and staff and the makeshift hospital established inside Qualcomm Stadium. In this podcast, he talks about how the tremendous community response aided in the overall success of patient treatment, including pharmacy cooperation, voluntary medical staff, and the success of ICS/HICS. 

Watch the interview here:

Links/Resources

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ErskineFirePeople_1_.jpgAs of this publishing, crews continue to get a handle on the Erskine Fire in the Lake Isabella area of Kern County. 
But as they do there are still concerns and challenges facing them -- hot, dry and windy weather; difficult terrain; safety for everyone involved including the public; and much more. At this point the response phase of the attack is slowly gearing down, and the recovery phase is gearing up. 

Members of the Cal OES public information team were on the ground talking with leaders of the Kern County Fire Department, as well as Kern County Environmental Health about what they're seeing and what may lay ahead down that long road to recovery.  Chief Information Officer Brad Alexander hosts this edition of the All Hazards podcast.

LINKS

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Qualcomm.jpgIn late October 2007, Southern California experienced an unusually severe fire weather event characterized by intense, dry, gusty Santa Ana winds. This weather event drove a series of destructive wildfires that took a devastating toll on people, property, natural resources, and infrastructure. During this siege, 17 people lost their lives, 10 were killed by the fires outright, three were killed while evacuating, and 140 firefighters and an unknown number of civilians were injured. A total of 3,069 homes and other buildings were destroyed, and hundreds more were damaged. 

More than 350,000 households were evacuated at the height of the siege, meaning the evacuation could have included more than 900,000 people. Bob Kanaski was put in charge of the evacuation center at Qualcomm Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. It was a brilliant move but not without its many challenges. Mr. Kanaski talks about those and how he and his team were able to meet them head-on and win.

Links/Resources

Take a look at the video version of this podcast here:

Read the complete Cal FIRE report on the 2007 California Fire Siege:
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Jerry was born Jerome Michael Haleva in May of 1946. He served as chief of staff for Senator Bill Campbell (namesake for the Cal OES HQ building) from 1975-1990.  But he’s more recognizable as an actor in his comedic roles as Saddam Hussein, especially due to his resemblance to the now deceased Iraqi dictator.  He says he’s a “rock star” among "Achievers," fans of the movie "The Big Lebowski," taking his place at the autograph table at annual Lebowski Fests alongside The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, as well as John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore and many other actors from the film. 

To date (May 2003) his every credited acting role has been that of Saddam Hussein. (Source: IMDB)
He is currently a contract lobbyist (Sergeant Major Associates) and lives in Sacramento, California. 






Filmography (Source: IMDB)
2002 Live from Baghdad (TV Movie) ; Saddam Hussein
2002 The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest; Hologram Saddam (as Jerry M. Haleva)
1998 Jane Austen's Mafia!; Saddam Hussein
1998 The Big Lebowski; Saddam Hussein
1993 Hot Shots! Part Deux; Saddam Hussein
1991 Hot Shots!; Saddam Hussein (as Jerry Halera)
2009 The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans (Documentary) Saddam Hussein / Himself

Links/Resources
http://sgtmaj.com/
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0355062/
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