Hundreds of volunteers to distribute 25,000 emergency preparedness bags in Murrieta

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Volunteers have assembled 25,000 emergency preparedness bags that are set to be distributed to most homes in Murrieta, Saturday, Sept. 28, to spread emergency awareness.

David Nelson, a community member who helped come up with the initial idea for the 3-Minute Emergency Bag Project, started by asking a simple question that led to the notion of the project.

“Imagine if you had no power, no cell towers available, how would you communicate the greatest needs of your area to get help?” Nelson said.

Nelson and a few others had an idea that they could make a difference in the community by helping educate people on emergency preparedness. His group from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began with the idea of preparing individuals on a citywide level.

The community will gather at Murrieta Mesa High School, Sept. 28, from 8-11 a.m. for the bag distribution event.

Tony Morris, one of the church members, worked alongside Nelson and a few others on this project helps to oversee public affairs and public service projects within their church.

“We were just brainstorming different service activities that would be helpful for the city, because we really are interested in building bridges in our city and pulling the city together in a way that we can all benefit from it,” Morris said. “There’s been so many natural disasters and things going on recently, and we just felt that this would be something that would be helpful.”

Anyone who wants to volunteer for the distribution event can sign up at www.justserve.org, a website that hosts lists of opportunities to serve the city.

Erin Cohen helped Nelson and Morris get the information up on JustServe back in January.

“They approached me with the idea, and then we were getting the ball rolling as far as getting the community involved, getting sponsors and then posting it for the community to see it,” Cohen said. “It’s nice how really willing everyone is to help and the mayor seems really excited about it. A lot of businesses were able to donate money to get it started, and a lot of community businesses that are local for this area have pitched in.

“There have been fires and earthquakes,” Cohen said, in reference to the Tenaja Fire that burned thousands of acres just west of Murrieta, to the recent 4.0 earthquake. “Ever since starting this it’s a reminder that this is an important project.”

During the planning stages, Nelson met with the mayor.

“All of this is all volunteer stuff. We don’t make any money on this, even the people making the bags are doing this at cost,” Nelson said.

The bag will consist of basic necessities that may be needed in an emergency, with information on contacting fire, police or medical personnel. It will also include a 12-page emergency preparedness guide, including what to do in an emergency, how to purify water, food prep and safety tips. It will also include information about upcoming event related to the project, such as an Emergency Preparedness Fair, Nov. 2, Civil Emergency Response Team training and active shooter awareness classes.

“The last phase will involve a communication program in 2020 that, within 30 to 45 minutes we can, without cell phones, without power, communicate the greatest needs of our city through our fire chief,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he and a team are expecting around 500 volunteers to help with bag distribution. These volunteers will head to different tables where they can pick up the bags, Nelson said, and distribute them from list of streets and homes within certain zones.

“In the next several years we just want the people in our city to be more aware of emergency preparedness,” Nelson said.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.