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GRASS VALLEY, Calif. June 18, 2019 – “Empowered” is the word Forest Springs resident Nancy Picker used to describe her neighbors’ state of wildfire preparedness at a recent resource fair held in the mobile home community. Residents filled the room to hear presentations from firefighters and their own working group addressing the particular challenges faced by residents in mobile home parks.
The resource fair was the culmination of a months-long effort to prepare the park and its 300+ senior residents for the upcoming high fire season.
In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, Picker thought it was high time to tackle the issues surrounding evacuation and preparedness, and she was not alone. Together with other residents, including a Camp Fire survivor, she set out to inform her neighbors about evacuations, defensible space and readiness. This the Emergency Evacuation Plan group was created.
The mobile home park’s management supported their goals and set out to clear brush from the park’s primary entrance and secondary egress routes.
Mobile home parks have additional challenges when compared to traditional neighborhoods. The homes are very close together, a centralized power and water system serves all homes and, of course, mobile homes are prone to catch fire faster than stucco or wood construction.
CodeRED, buddies, Go Bags and signage
The emergency working group started by surveying the residents’ preparedness. CodeRED, Nevada County’s emergency information system, was on top of their priority list. Providing signup help to less computer-savvy neighbors was taken care of by more technology-inclined residents.
Residents helping each other in case of an evacuation via an organized buddy system was next on the to-do list.
Signage for residents with mobility or other medical issues was acquired and placed in high visibility spots.
Lists for Go Bags tailored to the needs of the senior residents and their pets have been developed and made available to all residents.
Community building and awareness
The core group reached out to residents to complete several tasks. While anyone can call 211 for signup help with CodeRED, adding the systems’ numbers to a person’s cell phone and making sure emergency calls come through at night required a more hands on approach.
Several presentations were held in the community room and in residents’ living rooms. Working smoke detectors, flashlights placed in each room, contact lists printed out and home inventories filled out were some of the tips the Evacuation Emergency Plan included.
Vegetation in need of trimming was removed from individual sites by residents and the park maintenance crew.
Evacuation routes for the various zones of the park were developed and the Emergency Evacuation Program group reached out to all residents with the information.
“Having neighbors help neighbors is so incredibly rewarding for everyone,” Picker said. People looking in on each other, caring for someone’s pets or watering the plants is fairly normal. Knowing you can be of service in an emergency is different – and special.
Resource Fair a success
Planning for the resource Fair started in April. The core team reached out to agencies and service providers, organized a raffle with generous donations from local businesses and got the word out.
On the day of the event, fire engines and an ambulance pulled up, the Red Cross set up a tent outside to hand out pamphlets and checklists.
Inside the park’s community center, CAL FIRE, Nevada County Consolidated Fire, Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, ReadyNevadaCounty, Nevada County Public Health and 211 representatives were on hand to answer any questions.
Nevada County Consolidated Fire representatives talked about leaving early. “You don’t have to wait until you get a CodeRED message or a first responder is banging on your door.” Leaving on a Red Flag day is also an option. Get your Go Bag, drive to an evacuation destination, or just drive to your favorite lunch or dinner place.
After the presentations and the Q&A session, residents took advantage of the resource lists, Go Bag packing demonstrations and, of course, the winners of the raffle were announced.
The emergency planning team had reminders of the evacuation routes available, copies of Nevada County OES’ “Ready Nevada County” booklet and more.
Neighbors chatted with each other, planning to practice an evacuation drill, come over and help cutting the tree branch too close to the deck or just making plans for next Sunday.
Meanwhile the emergency evacuation team was elated with both the turnout and the presence of so many agencies. “When we put a call out for volunteers ,our residents stepped up and every task was taken care of. Then, all the agencies immediately agreed to come and speak to our community. The agencies have these wonderful resources and we can’t thank them enough for sharing their knowledge with us,” Picker said.
The residents of the mobile home park are now prepared for wildfire emergencies. The emergency group is now working on solutions for Public Safety Power Shutoffs that are likely to affect the residents during the high fire season.