Neighbors Helping Neighbors

When it comes to surviving disasters in Topanga—earthquakes, fires, floods—our ability to come together as neighbors helping neighbors, can make a big difference.

Neighborhood Networks (NN), a program overseen by the Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness (TCEP), helps neighborhoods get organized into small preparedness communities before a disaster happens. There are many NNs throughout Topanga; one might already be in your neighborhood. Becoming part of a NN can help you:

  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Identify who might need assistance during an evacuation or after an earthquake
  • Set up a neighborhood communications system to receive and forward alerts of a wildfire and evacuation orders
  • Learn who has various resources (water, food, power tools, backup power, ham radios) that could help you survive if you were isolated after a big earthquake
  •  Know who has medical or CERT training
  • Share emergency preparation tips and information.

The reality is that the safety of your family depends not only on your individual preparations, but on the coordinated efforts of your neighbors.

TCEP volunteers recently created a NN Task Force to analyze and map the existing NNs in the Canyon and are actively recruiting new NN coordinators. Coordinators get a direct communication link with TCEP and will be among the first people notified of a fire or other disaster in the area. After receiving the alert from TCEP, the coordinator then uses the communication system they previously established to alert their NN (think modern-day phone tree using automated calling systems or mass emails/texts). Being a coordinator isn’t difficult or time-consuming. TCEP volunteers will show you how to set it up, and how to obtain and learn to use an FRS radio.

For more about neighbors helping neighbors: contact TCEP at


FRS (Family Radio Service) radios are simple walkie-talkie devices that anyone can use to talk to nearby neighbors. During major disasters, TCEP transmits accurate, verified information updates over FRS radio channel 15 in their Top-of-the-Hour (TOTH) reports. This can be a way to get critical updates when internet and cell phone service fail during a power outage. Accurate information can make things less stressful and may even save lives.



By Dorothy Comeau


With our apologies, Dorothy (Thée) Comeau, not Linnea Mielcarek, was author of the article, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” in the April 3 issue, which we corrected in the online edition. Even so, we are grateful to Ms. Mielcarek for shepherding the article to us for publication. Thank you both.


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