Blackout, Shakeout, and Helping Out

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The Inter Tribal Long Term Recovery Foundation Promotes Tribal Sovereignty and Safety Through Community Outreach and Partnerships

Pala Fire Department

The Inter-Tribal Long Term Recovery Foundation (ITLTRF) facilitates an ongoing dialogue about emergency management between tribal leadership, local, state, and federal agencies, and public and private stakeholders in the region. In 2010, the ITLTRF was awarded a grant from the American Red Cross’s “2007 Southern California Wildfires Recovery, Planning and Assistance Program.” The grant funds supported the Foundation'sTribal Community Disaster Education Workshops, Inter-Tribal Table Top Exercise, the piloting of the Inter Tribal Alert System, and the 2011 Regional Readiness Symposium. Without the funding and program support from the American Red Cross, the ITLTRF would not be the community leader for preparedness in San Diego County and the Southern California Region that it is today.

“There is a visible paradigm shift in thinking about emergency management and preparedness in our local tribal community,” said ITLTRF Executive Board Vice Chairman, Adam Geisler, who is also the Tribal Secretary for the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians. Geisler was the Disaster Recovery Coordinator for La Jolla following the Poomacha Fire that burned over 90% of the La Jolla Reservation. However, the recent county-wide “Blackout” in early September revealed gaps in the level of preparedness for many tribal members, especially for the elderly and school-age community members who came to the ITLTRF requesting flashlights, emergency radios, and more information about how to prepare tribal youth for disasters.

According to Diane Bojorquez, SCTCA TANF Resource Coordinator, when she evacuated her family on the night of the Blackout her grandson asked her, “Why do we always have to leave the reservation?” The next day she called the ITLTRF to ask what services were available to tribal families. She expressed her desire to provide age-appropriate answers to her grandchildren and she also wants to help more tribal families prepare.

SCTCA is one of the Foundation's Emergency Communication Partners along with Cota Holdings Inc.from New Mexico. The Tribal TANF program is instrumental in providing social services directly to the tribal families that need it most. Emergency preparedness was added to the repertoire of services that SCTCA provides to the reservation and urban Native American populations following the firestorms that impacted the county in the past decade. For the past two years, SCTCA declared September National Preparedness Month in order to increase tribal readiness for all-hazards threatening tribal lands. SCTCA is a key partner for the successful implementation of the ITLTRF’s message of “gathering and sharing resources to prepare and protect our future,” and the message is clearly taking root.

On October 20, 2011 more than 400 tribal people in San Diego County participated in the 2011 Great California Shakeout according to numbers released about registered participants at The ITLTRF actively recruited over 100 tribal participants from over 10 of the 18 Indian reservations in the county to sign up for the event. The ITLTRF is building community resilience by coordinating and planning for the needs of the whole community, which is an inherent cultural practice for tribes. “Helping each other out is just what we do,” said Timothy Ruise (Cahuilla-Luiseno), ITLTRF Emergency Response Coordinator, “it is who we are.”

For more information about the ITLTRF and to learn how you can donate and help out, please go to

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