Editorial: Be prepared
The five-year anniversary of the devastating Witch Creek fire was hardly noticed this past weekend. For the most part, that was a good thing; it means some of the scars have started to heal and people who lost their homes are moving on with their lives.
Of course no one who experienced the fire will ever forget it. The inferno destroyed 365 homes in Rancho Bernardo and another 90 homes in Poway, along with others in San Diego’s back country.
Along with the tragedies of loss, there will always be the memories of communities coming together in a time of need. Countless volunteers offered helping hands and formed organizations to assist fire victims with rebuilding. Perhaps just as importantly, the groups took on the responsibilities of helping our communities become better prepared for when (not if) the next wildfire or other disaster strikes.
In Poway the Neighborhood Emergency Corps was formed last year, an outgrowth of the 2010 Poway Community Leadership Institute. Its goal is to organize community volunteers to help residents and business owners deal with emergencies. The group’s goal is to have a volunteer coordinator in each of 60 identified neighborhoods trained and available to assist their neighborhood with evacuation or shelter in place procedures. In addition to disseminating emergency preparedness information and holding training meetings, the group also holds emergency drills and helps with the stockpiling of supplies.
The next training session, this one focused on sheltering in place, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 14211 Twin Peaks Road in Poway. Visit www.powaynec.com for details.
In Rancho Bernardo, the volunteer group RB United was formed and received funding from the San Diego Foundation. The group’s emphasis has been redirected toward emergency preparation. Among programs RB United has sponsored are those on documenting one’s property. Through RB United, RB Fire Safe Council formed 18 months after the fire and its efforts have included putting on a safety fair during the annual RB Alive! Expo so locals can obtain guidance on creating an emergency kit and plans.
For more information, visit www.rbunited.com.
Emergency preparedness experts often express concern that, once the memory of a major event starts to fade, so does the public’s sense of urgency to be ready for the next event. It is vital, they say, to be ready now so that property and lives will be saved later.
Families can start by having escape plans and enough provisions on hand (for both themselves and their pets) to get them through several days. Property owners should make sure weeds, brush and trash are cleared within 100 feet of dwellings. A good place to start for information on preparing is www.readysandiego.org.
Yes, it takes time and resources to be prepared. But taking steps now will pay off the next time smoke appears over the horizon.
- Witch Creek fire five years later: Recovery, preparation efforts continue
- Marla Cruz: Helping community comes naturally
- Are you prepared to evacuate? Expert offers tips
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