Nevada City, CA December 1, 2020 – While there has been some rain recently, much of the State, including Nevada County, is in a drought and the threat of Wildfire still exists. On Monday the 30th of November, California’s Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, comprised of twelve Assembly Members and Senators from across the state, met to address Emergency Response to Disasters with a specific focus on emergency alerts and evacuations.
The committee, chaired by Assembly Member Luz Rivas, met at the Capitol and listened to experts share testimony on this statewide challenge. One of the subject matter experts presenting was the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager, Paul Cummings. His testimony was heard along with senior representatives from CAL FIRE, CAL OES, the President of the California State Association of Counties, Butte County’s Sheriff, and more.
Cummings focused on the telecommunications and evacuation challenges Nevada County faces as a rural community. He praised how the community demonstrated a state of readiness in the Jones Fire, and underscored the early alert and evacuation challenges a Public Safety Power Shutoff would present. Cummings highlighted the connectivity difficulties rural counties face with limited cell phone coverage, inadequate backup capability for landline and cell towers, and the lack of internet during a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
The Nevada County Office of Emergency Services advocated for bolstering redundancies through backup power systems, enhanced notifications, and increased evacuation support for older adults and people with disabilities.
Cummings also focused on developing transportation and sheltering support for older neighbors and those with disabilities. “The data shows that these most vulnerable residents are of the highest likelihood to perish in a fast-moving wildfire,” Cummings said. He encouraged the State to do more to center its policy and planning on these residents.
As winter progresses, the Office of Emergency Services encourages all Nevada County residents to use this time to review individual and family emergency plans, increase defensible space to protect properties, and offer support to neighbors who may need extra help developing an emergency plan.
The Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management’s primary focus includes disaster preparedness, emergency management, and homeland security issues. Watch the Monday, November 30th, 2020 meeting here: https://www.assembly.ca.gov/media/joint-legislative-committee-emergency-management-20201130/video