INDIO, Calif. - According to the U.S. Geological Survey, California has not only the most natural earthquakes, but is among the states with the most damaging ones as well. When the big one hits, there will be great need up and down our state - meaning the Coachella Valley may have to fend for itself for some time. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when "the big one" will happen, and when it does hit - it'll likely be unlike anything you've ever experienced.
"It would be very heavy shaking for up to three minutes, constant, we know there would be significant impacts to our water, many water main breaks, there would be fatalities from buildings coming down," Brooke Federico from the Riverside County Emergency Management Department in Indio says.
To handle that kind of destruction, we do have local resources but, "There are not enough resources in the valley to go around for every resident," she said.
In the case of a large earthquake, Federico says many state resources may go to bigger cities, or take a while to get here - leaving the Coachella Valley dangerously alone.
So the valley has the Emergency Operations Center.
"We activate in large scale disasters to coordinate resources for responding agencies . We're looking for big picture what's happening and who's impacted," Federico said.
All agencies are together and represented. Fire, law enforcement, public health, utilities and transportation, for example, will oversee need from that room.
"We have transportation management. If they need barricades for road closures we give those resources. We have shelter operations in coordination with Red Cross. If there are supplies for sheltering evacuated populations we would seek those resources," she said.
There is also a large audio visual wall used to collect information in an emergency, whether that's pulling up social media accounts to figure out what people are talking about or turning on KESQ to see what's going on in the area.
We also spoke to Chief Deputy Geoff Raya from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department about SERT, the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team.
"The primary function when we have a natural disaster like our recent storms or an earthquake that disrupts living such as power outage, we become involved and start to manage needs of those communities," Deputy Chief Raya said.
"The state would rely on resources from the federal government. They would request from FEMA so a lot of resources would got to LA and the valley. They would ensure based on need that we're getting what we need," Federico said.
Even if the valley was near the top of the priority list, "That takes time, that takes days for that kind of operation," she added.
That means you need to be prepared on your own as well. While it's important to have your home earthquake kit, experts say it's imperative to come together with the people around you.
"It does require a community to convey that message to identify those areas that could be problematic," Deputy Chief Raya said.
We reached out to one such community that has a very detailed emergency preparedness plan in place, Sun City Palm Desert.
"The committee has 3 integral parts. One is a medical team of doctors and nurses for First Aid. We have block captains that will canvas their areas and assignments of 20 homes each. They'll look for people trapped. And we have a group of support teams. Search and rescue, CERT trained,"
Ken Eklund is a Sun city resident who's also a member of CVERG, the Coachella Valley Emergency Readiness Group. There are 150 members of that group. It's a local organization of HOAs involved in emergency preparedness. They'll help any group, large or small, get ready for the big one.
"Recently, I spoke before a group in a community that hasn't reached out and been very supportive of emergency preparedness so a group in a cul-de-sac decided they'd do it on their own and now they're off and running," Eklund said.
Eklund can help your country club, neighborhood or even block get prepared. You can call him and connect to CVERG at 760-834-8270 or email him at email@example.com.
"The total organizational part maybe less than 2 hours then it's a matter of implementation. You can make it as depth as you want but anything is an improvement over where you are now," he said.
"Helping neighbors is the quickest and most effective way to get help. If we were to wait for emergency services, we would not survive,"
Bottom line - local resources may expire, state resources may take days or longer to get to us and even the most prepared person can only store so much food and water - so it comes down to communities being prepared. At a time when the valley could be dangerously alone, best to go at it together.