When the Inevitable Happens

As our thoughts turn towards the holiday season, lets spare a thought for the many people (including CERT volunteers) who are currently dealing with the huge impacts of the devastating wildfires, both in Butte County and Southern California.

Many of you know that I moved to Foster City after 13 years working for the City of Malibu.  During all those years we understood the threats from wildfire, floods, storms and earthquakes, and did our best to be prepared for what nature might bring. Along the way, we experienced some of these, but each time we instinctively knew that it could have been worse.

As I write this, along with several adjacent cities and communities, residents of Malibu are experiencing what is being described as the worst wildfire disaster in the City’s history. Many of my friends (including several Malibu CERT members and Sheriff’s volunteers) lost their homes. The feelings of helplessness and hope are natural reactions, and fill me as I try to get news of the situation there. Reports are just beginning to reach me, but here are some details to share which should be considered if we should ever face a similar test here:

  • The entire City was under Mandatory evacuation orders.
  • The City Hall was directly impacted, so could not open its EOC. Further, there was very little volunteers could do at this stage of the fire-fight, so CERT was not activated.
  • CERT members who evacuated took their Go-kits and had basic supplies for themselves and their pets, wherever they elected to evacuate to.
  • Because the team members were so directly impacted by the disaster, many members were in no position to provide assistance at shelters or staging areas.
  • Because the power, internet and phones were all down, team members kept in touch with each other via ham radio.
  • Several members did respond to their designated meeting areas and began to distribute emergency supplies.

These recent catastrophic fires should once again be a wake-up call for all of us to be as vigilant as possible. Preparedness makes sense and should be an ongoing part of what we do. Double-check your gear, double-check your plans.

Remember, it’s not IFthe Bad Thing will happen, it’s WHEN!