Drop, cover, and hold on to your wallet

Oct. 19, 2012

Katy Grimes: Thursday was “The Great California Shake Out,” earthquake preparedness day. I had the great fortune to be at the CalEPA building for a California Air Resources Board meeting in Sacramento, where we were expected to “drop, cover, and hold on.”

As I huddled on the floor with my notebook over my head, hoping that the carpet was clean, I wondered why there has been such a big media push by the Earthquake Authority.

Last year I contacted the California Earthquake Authority to ask who they are and why they advertise so much. The public information officer I spoke with was uncomfortable with my questions and wanted to know why I wanted to know. Finally I got him to tell me that the CEA is a publicly managed, mostly privately funded organization that provides catastrophic residential earthquake insurance. He was insistent that they are not a public agency.

Anyone who owns a home and lives within an officially designated earthquake area must have earthquake insurance. But I still find it highly suspicious that the earthquake authority is publicly managed and “largely privately funded,” especially since many homeowners are not given a choice about carrying earthquake insurance.

The Great California Shake Out program has plastered the airwaves recently and news lately, along with the CEA’s commercials about its insurance. The Great California Shake Out website is a bit of a mystery until you scroll down to the bottom of the page. The sponsors are FEMA, the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC, California Earthquake Authority, California Emergency Management Agency, the United States Geological Survey, American Red Cross and State Farm Insurance Company.

The other strange group attached is the Earthquake Country Alliance, the organizer of California’s annual earthquake drill, a project of the USC earthquake center, funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey. The National Science Foundation doesn’t actually do work, they fund other groups.

It’s all about the publicly-funded grants.

Obviously California earthquakes are real, but do a dozen agencies, boards, commissions and companies need to be involved? It’s a drain on public funds.

And their commercials are stupid.

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