Sheriff Villanueva to Malibu: “If You Fail to Plan, Prepare to Fail”
By Cece Woods
There is no doubt the earthquakes that rocked Southern California recently was a serious reminder to be prepared for a disaster.
As the first official fire season fast approaches, and after hard lessons learned during the Woolsey Fire, many Malibuites most certainly have a better understanding of the importance of emergency preparedness.
Unfortunately, City officials haven’t shown residents any evidence of being better prepared for fire season, regardless of the backlash from the community after City officials completely abandoned residents during the Woolsey Fire.
The City’s one attempt to placate citizens was to add a third member to the Public Safety Department. The new Malibu Fire Safety Lisasion, Jerry Vandermuelen, was welcomed to the community May 13th. While Vandermuelen has some impressive credentials, 35 years of fire service experience with the Kern County and Ventura County Fire Departments, unfortunately, the wheels of bureacracy continue to turn. The City of Malibu was embarrassingly unprepared during the disaster, and the community remains skeptical at best – especially since the Public Safety Manager Susan Duenas, and her assisant, Public Safety Specialist Stephanie Berger, were completely M.I.A. during Woolsey. They offered no guidance or information to assist residents during this critical time.
However, the one relationship that has drastically improved is Malibu’s connection with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
With new Sheriff Alex Villanueva in charge, we can have faith that the issues under his pervue will be managed efficientally. Villanueva was aware of the mistakes made by LASD during Woolsey, which at the time, was under the control of former Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
Villanueva was sworn in December 3rd, 2018, after a nail-biter Sheriff’s race during mandatory evacuations. While votes were still being counted in the Sheriff’s election, Villanueva made the trip at 11 p.m. to Malibu from from his home in LaHabra Heights to check on troops stationed at Zuma Beach.
Incidentally, McDonnell did not make the trip out to Malibu during the disaster.
Villanueva’s dedication to our community, and being prepared for the next for the next disaster is unparalled to any other Sheriff before him. On May 22nd, Sheriff Villanueva made his third visit to Malibu (at our publication’s request all three times), for a town hall to address resident concerns and talk about disaster preparedness.
The Sheriff was very clear about the protocol of residents with health conditions, and that those in need of special care, prompting them to follow evacuation orders so they can receive the proper medical services should they need it.
For those of you who are planning to stay being the barricades in the next disaster, the Sheriff delivered cautionary advice we should take very seriously. “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Villanueva warned those in attendance.
Wise words as we enter Malibu’s most dangerous season of the year.