First Fridays (September 2006): A Deadly Reminder month Councilman Tom LaBonge held a press conference “challenging residents
to reinvigorate observance of First Fridays to better prepare for a large-scale catastrophe like an earthquake.”

“The need for preparedness is more important than ever,” said Councilmember LaBonge citing 9/11 and the fact the San Andreas fault runs through major population centers of Southern California.

Today is undoubtedly an ideal First Friday to launch this, as we’re reminded by anniversaries of a number disasters. One week from Monday is, of course, the five year anniversary of 9/11, and this past Tuesday marked one year since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. And on a local front, 20 years ago yesterday was the worst airline disaster in Los Angeles history.

On August 31, 1986, an AeroMexico flight preparing to land at LAX was hit by a small Piper airplane. The three passengers on the Piper were killed instantly, and the remains of the plane fell onto the playground of Cerritos Elementary School – fortunately, this was a Sunday and no one one the ground there was hurt. However, the AeroMexico DC-9 had lost control and crashed in a residential neighborhood between the 91 and 5 freeways, killing all 64 on board and 15 others on the ground. Ensuing fires destroyed eleven homes and damaged seven others. (source: Notable California Aviation Disasters)

All of this should remind us that disasters and tragedy can happen at any time. While we’re often reminded to make an earthquake/emergency kit after every minor tremblor or brief power outage, all too few of us ever actually make one. And for all the talk about having an emergency plan for where we live, its unlikely that many of us have decided on a unified action plan among friends, family, and neighbors.

I hope that First Fridays will keep the dialogue about the subject active, and inspire many to be proactive in emergency management. I also encourage Tom LaBonge to keep engaging the media and public through this initiative.

(more details of the 1986 disaster at Wikipedia, and coverage of 20th anniversary remembrances at the Press Telegram and LA Times… photo via Wikipedia)

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