Are You Prepared?

By
Home Builder with CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS 521400, 1501015, 01795582

Here we sit in the comforts and confines of our own abodes and protected environs watching this staggering and mind boggling epic event unfold from our flat screen TV and online computer. All the while hundreds of thousands these poor souls are experiencing first hand, this horrific turning point in their lives and  not even having one second to stop and think about how this will alter or regretfully even terminate so many of their lives.

There comes a time when we just need to cast all that’s important to us aside and take a moment to appreciate and reflect on just how lucky we are. Most if not all the folks who read this post have never had to experience the trauma, disaster, loss of life and limb, terror, chaos and misery to the likes of what we are currently witnessing happen to so many hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of fellow human beings all in one fell swoop.

 

As a business owner and a general contractor who knows how to build things, organize and delegate manpower and expedite and facilitate large scale projects and operations I felt it my responsibility some 25 years ago to reach out to my fellow man and lend a helping hand in times of crisis. So after a series of pretty catastrophic seismic events in Southern California in the 80’s I made a decision that I would do whatever I possibly could in times of crisis to help others.

Our disaster response crews were not first responders because those were the folks that searched for survivors and saved lives or tried to recover those less fortunate.  However, once the search, rescue and recovery phase of the mission was over they (FEMA, local, state and federal OFFICES OF EMERGENCY SERVICES  (OES), INSURANCE COMPANIES etc.) would then call upon folks like us to begin the grueling task of clearing and removing the rubble, demolishing and removing damaged and destroyed structures, site preparation and eventually the rebuilding process of their respective communities.

In our case “community” meant “trailer parks”, “mobilehome parks”, “manufactured home developments”, etc. It seems as though God and Man has always placed “transportable dwellings” in the path of disaster prone areas.  Be they fire, flood, tornado, hurricane or earthquake you always hear about the gazillions of trailers and mobilehomes that were damaged and/or destroyed. But be that as it may that was the way it was and somebody had to deal with it. So I put a team of good men, tools, equipment and materials together and mobilized from one disaster to another for almost 25 years.

If we weren’t working in the landslides and floods of Santa Barbara in the late 80’s, an earthquake ravaged area like Northridge from ’94-’97, huge fire losses in San Diego in early 2000’s or the “Fearsome Foursome” series of hurricanes in Florida, one of which was “Charlie” from ’04-’06, we just didn’t feel like we were doing our share. It’s easy to take the line of least resistance and cherry pick the good and/or fun projects and go home to your family and a warm meal every evening. But it was quite another ball game to pack your backpacks and tool boxes, buy some extra parts for your trucks and a few extra spare tires, and port you and your crews right in the middle of all hell breaking loose. Such was the way it was for me and my guys for a long time. But I don’t regret one single day of that experience.

I’ll never forget the appreciation the residents of one very poor trailer park we were working in had for our men. Within a few days after the 1994, Northridge Earthquake hit Southern California we had mobilized over 160 men to the zone and set up in about 14 trailer and mobilehome parks to begin the arduous task of re-setting, leveling and bracing thousands of trailers, mobilehomes and manufactured homes that had “Pancaked” (fallen flat to the ground).

The Red Cross was literally providing “3 hots and a cot” (three meals a day and military issues of US Army Cots and tents) for folks that lost everything. Our guys were working feverishly 24/7 trying heroically to get these homes reset and inspected so the residents could re-habitate their modest homes and get back to the task of putting the rest of their very meager and humble lives back together.

Most of these folks were poor and many were elderly and even invalid.  But I will never forget the day the Red Cross came cruising in with their “Meals On Wheels” Van for their daily dinner call for the residents of the park. Now mind you this particular Red Cross Mission was for the disenfranchised and homeless folks that had lost everything not for the workers trying to get these folks back into their homes.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was for the van to feed the residents not the workers. Well, this scene brings tears to my eyes some 15 years later every time I think about it. The line was very long, probably 50 to 75 hungry residents waiting for dinner which was the biggest and best meal of the day and certainly the one every resident looked most forward to. What they did I’ll never forget.

While our guys were working away one of the residents, in a wheel chair I might add, strolled up to the front of the line and stopped everything dead in its tracks. I didn’t hear the conversation because I was across the street but all of a sudden I heard clapping and cheering and the next thing I saw was the old guy in the wheel chair going up to one of my guys and telling him to drop his tool belt and go to the head of the line. Then all of the other residents who were standing in line stepped aside and started waving all of my guys on to pass in front of them. They were hungry, homeless and displaced souls but yet they still had the presence of mind to share what little they had.

I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life that day.  It doesn’t really matter how much money we have or for that matter don’t have or how big our home is.  It’s really all about people and what they have to give. In this case all they had to give was their place in line so that the young men who were spending time away from their families trying to help them get back into their homes could have a warm meal.

So let us never forget all of these images and faces of desperation and hopelessness that we see every day on or TV’s as we sit smugly and snugly cuddled up on our favorite easy chair or sofa. This is not a movie or a play. This is real and this could happen to any of us anytime and anywhere. No matter where we live we are vulnerable to the whims of Mother nature.

My advice to family, friends, neighbors and my fellow Americans is to be prepared because if, God forbid, disaster should ever strike your neighborhood and you are not prepared you may be one of those faces being seen by folks snuggled up to their TV’s watching you suffer and scramble for food, water, blankets and medical supplies. But if you’re one of the lucky ones I hope you remember that old man in the wheel chair that waved all those workers to the head of the line.

I really love America but most of all I really love Americans.

The following links are local and national Emergency Response services and First Responders. Might I suggest that you take a little time to familiarize yourself with the local and national agencies in your geographical spheres of influence should you ever have a need for them. Naturally there are also local fire, rescue and law enforcement agencies in your respective areas. However, remember that immediately following a disaster these local services soon become inundated with emergency response and then regrettably things turn into pandemonium and it becomes a panic driven free for all. So take the time to prepare yourself for any potential disaster. You must be self-sufficient for at least one week and that's only if you don't have emergency medical needs.

http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/eqmaps/links.html
http://www.redcross.org/
http://www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm
http://www.oes.ca.gov/

If you're looking for an experienced Disaster Response contractor who is willing to travel anywhere in the USA to help victims of catostrophic events please feel free to contact:

www.onthelevelcontractors.com

 

 

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Why To Choose Us?

John DL Arenden, Broker 

TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments

TAG (The Arendsen Group) Real Estate Sales & Investments is a full service, one-stop, turnkey, family owned and operated real estate brokerage, General Contractor, Manufactured Home Contractor, Developer, Investor, Property Manager, Interior Design, Engineering, architectural, Landscape design, Expert Witness, Consulting, Curative Title and Troubleshooting company with over 100 years of combined experience in the San Diego real estate sales, construction, design & development arena.

 

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
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William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

John, your points are valid, as you speak with the voice of authority and expeience in this matter.

#7 - Martin, right on point, but the problem goes back further than recent memory. Had the U.S. been wise in its infancy to provide that type of infrastructural help when Haiti first came into existence, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. But alas, but for the fact that Haiti arose as a result of a successful slave rebellion....

Jan 18, 2010 08:16 AM #18
Rainmaker
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Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Thanks for the slap in the face. I needed it. We all get so caught up in our day to day problems and complaining about how bad business is we forget how lucky we really are.

Jan 18, 2010 02:24 PM #19
Rainer
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Beverly Femia
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Hampstead, NC
Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are

John, Yours is the only inspiring post I've read since joining AR.  What I have seen in posts and comments is more self-interest than selflessness. 

It's a beautiful story and I'm glad it happened in the US but it could have happened anywhere because people are the same everywhere.  Parents everywherelove their children and people who barely know each other offer all kinds of support when they know help is needed.  

Thank you for sharing your beautiful memory.   

Jan 18, 2010 05:13 PM #20
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John DL Arendsen
CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS - Leucadia, CA
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Lora, I used to feel pretty smug and safe as an American until I saw so many of my fellow Americans sleeping outside on Army cots and keeping warm by rubbing their hands over a 55 gallon steel drum filled with rubble from ruins used for a fireplace. It Disaster can turn even the most civilized places in the world into chaotic nightmares. Never leave home without an survival and first aid kit. Do a google search and you will find them all over the place or make one yourself. But do have one with you at all times.

Jan 19, 2010 01:58 AM #21
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John DL Arendsen
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Katie, I feel your warmth and passion for your fellow man and I wish all we needed was love. But the truth is we also need to be prepared for the un-expected.

Jan 19, 2010 01:59 AM #22
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John DL Arendsen
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Weichert, Unfortunately we could have spent every dime we had as a nation to try to help them rebuild their infrastructure to no avail. Truth is.... It is what it is. You would have had to demo their whole infrastructure and start from the ground up. Not a practical or affordable solution. But to take it one step further there are cities and communities right here on our own soil that could easily end up looking like Haiti should a quake of a 7 magnitude hit. Many of our older cities are just as vulnerable and more populated than Haiti. The Midwest as an example is very old, lots of unreinforced brick buildings and no retrofitting has ever been done. One of the biggest eartquakes in history took place in the Midwest in the 1800's and it could happen again. You don't think Chicago could end up looking like Port au Prince?

Jan 19, 2010 02:08 AM #23
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John DL Arendsen
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Thanks for the kind words Michael.

Jan 19, 2010 02:09 AM #24
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John DL Arendsen
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Yes Bill Americans are the greatest. We just need to re assure ourselves of that every so often when things become challanging.

Jan 19, 2010 02:15 AM #25
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John DL Arendsen
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Thank you for your kind words Sally and Debra

Jan 19, 2010 02:16 AM #26
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John DL Arendsen
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Joetta, Once again it's so important to have a plan. I never leave home without a supply of water, a sleeping bag, survival and first aid kit. I have it all tucked away in a single back pack. And it doesn't take up that much room in your car.

Jan 19, 2010 02:19 AM #27
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John DL Arendsen
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Kathy and Karen, Thank you for your kind words.

Jan 19, 2010 02:20 AM #28
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John DL Arendsen
CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS - Leucadia, CA
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Tamara, Thank you for your kind words. As long as I'm physically able I will reach out to folks in times of need. I feel very fortunate to have been able to help so many folks in my lifetime.

Jan 19, 2010 02:22 AM #29
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John DL Arendsen
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William, Thanks for your comment. However, the only problem is that we didn't have the overall weherewithal i.e. technology, construction materials, engineering capabilities or experience to have helped Haiti back in those days. Fact of the matter is many of our own cities across the Country are just as vulnerable if not more so than Port au Prince. Should we have a 7 mag. quake hit most of our old cities it would look very similar unfortunately. And it would impact as many lives.

Jan 19, 2010 02:28 AM #30
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John DL Arendsen
CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS - Leucadia, CA
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Didn't mean to slap ya pal. Just telling my story. But you're right sometimes we all need a wake up call just to remember how good most of us really have it.

Jan 19, 2010 02:29 AM #31
Rainer
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Tamara Perlman
Referral Network Inc. - Truckee, CA

John, May you live long and healthy!  And I hope when you're home, you appreciate all you have with great joy.  I'm guessing Janis is a real treasure!

Jan 19, 2010 02:32 AM #32
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John DL Arendsen
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Beverly, Thank you for such kind words. You are absolutely right. In times of crisis human beings do ban together. How we can show such love and compassion one day and such contempt and disrespect the next I'll never know. It's something that has puzzled me all my life. But I've always lived by my Dad's philosophy. "As long as you give more than you take, There will always be enough to go around."

Jan 19, 2010 02:33 AM #33
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John DL Arendsen
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Thank You Tamara, You're so right. Janis is my most valued treasure. We've been blessed for the past 37 years together and have raised 5 fantastic children that have given us the joy of 9 1/2 (bun in the oven) beautiful Grand Children.

Jan 19, 2010 02:37 AM #34
Rainer
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Tamara Perlman
Referral Network Inc. - Truckee, CA

John--It makes sense someone as giving as you are appreciates his blessings.  I love your Dad's quote!  May 2010 be everything you desire!

Jan 19, 2010 02:44 AM #35
Rainer
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Paul Silver
Tiverton, RI
Rhode Island full service real estate firm

great story... I feel motivated to go do something selfless... looking for it right now...

Jan 22, 2010 07:09 AM #36
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John DL Arendsen
CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

Thanks for your comments Tamara and Rhode Island RE

Feb 09, 2010 05:04 AM #37
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