"The Governor's Office of Emergency Services, much like the state it serves, has a rich and storied past. Since l917 _state level_ emergency organizations have existed, but disasters, most notably the 1906 earthquake, had a major impact on the state before then.
The original impetus for disaster preparation, however, was the planning for war. Since l945 the Legislature has given a single agency the responsibility for planning and preparing for war- caused emergencies, natural disasters and civil disturbances. It has recognized that the problems created by many types of disasters are similar. Program, equipment and emergency personnel are available for use in coping with any disaster, the main differences being the degree and extent of the damage and destruction, and in the primary type of assistance needed.
1917: State Council of Defense with 33 members appointed by the Governor; the Governor as Ex officio chairman. The members were from state officials, military personnel, staff of the University of California, and other qualified citizens of the state and nation. A vice chairman, appointed by the Governor, was to "devote his entire time to the work of the State Council of Defense." the bill read. The other members were to serve without pay, except reimbursement for expenses.
1929: State Emergency Council created by the legislature and took effect August 14, 1929. It was comprised of the heads of the State Departments of Finance, Public Works, Military Affairs, and Public Health; one member each representing the American Legion, the American Red Cross, the transportation interests of California, and the business organizations of the state; and one peace officer. The Council was to elect one of its members as chairman. The members were appointed by the Governor for two-year terms and served without pay, other than reimbursement for expenses.
The purpose of the Council was to prepare a plan and to consider ways of dealing with all emergencies. The Governor was required to declare, in times of extraordinary stress and wide-spread disaster, that an emergency existed. When there was conflict or inadequate local police authority, the Governor was to designate officers or departments to take charge of the necessary response. Under the direction of the Governor these officers had the authority of the highest police power, and it was directed that local governments cooperate with the state."
Continues next week.