Poway Neighborhood Corps stresses emergency communication
By Pat Kumpan
Poway residents might have a not-so-secret weapon when it comes to surviving the next disaster — their neighbors.
That premise is the basis of the newly-formed Poway Neighborhood Corps, which held its first community meeting Wednesday night — the eighth anniversary of the Cedar Fire. About 100 people attended the meeting, held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Twin Peaks Road
“This is about organizing our neighborhoods,” said Merrilee Boyack, a City Council member who said she was at the meeting as a concerned citizen.
Poway has roughly 60 neighborhoods and more than 60 percent now of them now have a neighborhood coordinator, or assistant coordinator, Boyack said. Their duties will be much like a Neighborhood Watch captain, the “go to” person who will be key to contacting neighbors with updates about an emergency.
“We’re asking coordinators to go door to door to collect information about how their neighbors want to be contacted,” Boyack said. “We’re not forcing anyone to do this — just inviting them to participate.”
Collected data will not be available to the city, only PNEC organizers. The data will be used during an emergency or to pass along other vital updates, Boyack added.
Neighbors will be asked to provide a cell or home phone number, and details about special needs, such as medication that needs refrigeration, ventilators, care for horses and other animals, or other specified concerns.
If someone has medical or other pertinent experience, or skills useful during a disaster, that too will be noted.
“If I was out of town, I’d want someone to call and tell me my house might burn down,” Boyack said.
“If you’re helping your neighbors, it helps us take care of things (related to the emergency) before we can get to you,” fire department Division Chief Jon Canavan said.
PNEC’s efforts will also help provide the fire department with more accurate information about the status of a neighborhood during a disaster, Canavan said.
“One of our most critical functions into a neighborhood is communications,” he added.
The idea for PNEC stems from the Poway Personal Preparedness Plan initiated a year and a half ago by Poway Community Leadership Institute graduates Chuck Cross, Jim McBride, Valerie Brown, Jonathan Smith and Linda Troyan.
McBride said Wednesday that he was impressed with Boyack’s efforts in organizing PNEC and moving it forward.
“She’s built in flexibility and removed the pressure (of setting it up),” McBride said.
For more details about PNEC, go online to www.powaynec.com, or call her at 858-748-6703.
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