Assemblyman Jeff Gorell has introduced AB 1339, an emergency preparedness bill designed to encourage gas station owners to equip their facilities with backup generators that will allow continued operation even during a natural disaster, a lesson learned in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
“America runs on electricity,” stated Gorell. “It powers our homes and businesses; it drives manufacturing and communications; and during a crisis, electricity is necessary to keep the emergency services responders working. While serving on the board of directors for the Red Cross of Ventura County during the Katrina disaster I had the opportunity to be a part of the national response and have learned valuable lessons.”
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The aftermath of hurricane Katrina demonstrated a weak link in providing emergency service to an area stricken by disaster. Emergency services vehicles were unable to refuel, not because of a lack of fuel, but because of a lack of electricity to run the fuel pumps.
As the Red Cross and other volunteer relief groups responded, fuel stations were unable to provide gasoline to the emergency response vehicles due to the power outage. Relief efforts stalled because the emergency relief vehicles were unable to deliver essential items such as food and water. Thousands of hot meals that were being prepared daily could not reach the victims for days.
“Witnessing the tragedy unfold in Japan, we must ask ourselves if we are fully prepared for a major disaster,” said Gorell. “The ability to refuel emergency vehicles needs to be a part of that plan.”
Assembly Bill 1339 offers a 50% tax credit for gas station owners to purchase and equip their stations with an environmentally friendly backup generator.
Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami have offered a terrifying worst case scenario of what happens when a natural disaster damages the infrastructure that provides lifesaving electrical power.
Gorell served on the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Ventura County from 2003 until 2009, serving as vice chair of the board from 2007 until 2009.