The Neighbor 4 Neighbor (N4N) program gained momentum Sunday in Seal Beach as an estimated 130 Catalina Ave. residents joined forces to initiate preparation for potential disasters and increase vigilance to maintain neighborhood safety.
Endorsed by the Seal Beach Police Department, N4N provides opportunities for neighborhoods to pool talents and resources to increase the chances of withstanding and recovering from a disaster and just to look out for each other in the meantime.
“Localizing preparation efforts all the way down to individual streets is proving to be most effective,” said Todd De Voe, Seal Beach Emergency Services Manager. “When residents express an interest, we help them organize their blocks and put on a neighborhood gathering so everyone can get to know each other.”
The “Meet & Greets” (as the gatherings are called) involve active participation by the Seal Beach Police Department, Orange County Fire Authority, West County CERT, Southern California Edison, Marx Bros. Fire Extinguishers and A-Plus Survival (disaster supplies).
On Sunday Fire Captain Michael Perry pointed out that in the event of a major disaster, residents must, for at least 72 hours, rely on themselves for whatever they need because fire and police are tasked with large-scale damage assessment and responding to mass casualty situations.
“That’s where CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training becomes so valuable,” notes De Voe. CERT members learn basic fire suppression, light search and rescue, disaster first aid, disaster psychology and team organization, all of which become critical functions in a time of need.
N4N also plays an important part in keeping neighborhoods safe, said CERT member Pattie Laird, one of the founders of the program.
“When all the neighbors know each other they also know when someone doesn’t belong in the neighborhood," she said. "That’s the time to alert the police to ensure everything is on the up and up.”
SB Police Sergeant Steve Bowles encourages residents to act as the eyes and ears of the department by alerting them about suspicious people or situations.
“Please call us right away if you think something is not right—that’s what we are here for,” said Bowles.
Bowles suggests putting the police department’s non-emergency number in cell phones: (562) 594-7232 to report concerns, however if any situation is life threatening, by all means call 911.
Seal Beach residents interested in finding out more about Neighbor 4 Neighbor or CERT training can contact Todd De Voe at (562) 799-4100 ext. 1145 or by email to Tdevoe@sealbeachca.gov. CERT information also is available at www.westcountycert.com.