USA/Australia– Calif.- The lessons from Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires are being closely studied by the Californian government as it grapples with its own crippling drought and year-round threat of wild fire.
In an Australian first, Victoria and California have signed a formal partnership to share information, skills and services to bolster both the states’ emergency management programs, with a strong focus on floods and fires.
The two states share many of the same problems, including drought and bushfires, while Victoria is also keen to learn from how Californian authorities and the general public respond to other disasters such as earthquakes.
The deal was signed by director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Mark Ghilarducci, Victorian Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett and Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley in Sacramento on Tuesday morning (Melbourne time).
“This agreement breaks new ground for our state and its ability to be more resilient before, during and after any disaster,” Mr Ghilarducci said.
“The similarities between California and Victoria’s climates and hazards create a mutually beneficial learning opportunity for our communities and governments.”
Mr Lapsley said the deal formalised co-operation between the two states after years of working together to discuss how to battle fires and floods.
“Victoria can learn from California’s response to disasters, especially when networks and services go down and how communities respond,” Mr Lapsley said.
With California in the grips of a major drought, Ms Garrett said that the US state wanted to follow Victoria’s lead with changing attitudes to water use and learn from smart water use such as covering irrigation channels.
California is also interested in adapting Victoria’s “leave and live” bushfire safety campaigns.