Monday, 10 May 2021

Silveira: Crisis is a chance to see the soul of a community

Lakeport has stared down a wall of fire and survived. Survival was not an accident. It was a result of the efforts of thousands of people each doing their part to respond to a dynamic and high risk situation.

On behalf of our residents and city, I first want to thank Cal Fire, all the mutual response fire agencies, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeport Unified School District, our Lakeport Fire Department, Lakeport Police and our own City Hall staff. If there is ever a moment for government to execute and deliver for our community, a major public safety threat is the best example, and on that front, we all have much to be thankful for. I am proud of their response and dedication throughout the fire threat.

However, the recognition does not stop there.

Crisis is a chance to see the soul of a community and what I have seen the past weeks are neighbors helping neighbors, the business community rising up to unleash their considerable resources to help, and a spirit of civic duty that has infused everyone.

This is not just government – this is an entire community working for its survival and assured safety of its residents. It is the best of us.

Residents are also to be commended for heeding the warning from our emergency system and responding to public safety messages. An efficient evacuation process is critical to life preservation.

While smoke drifts in the air, we should capture this momentum to prepare for an inevitable future fire risk to our community. Residents in the wildland urban interface should prepare plans and yards to defend their homes with proper spacing and vegetation removal.

Everyone should check their registration with the city’s emergency alert system NIXLE (even though we more than doubled our registration during the fire event), to ensure you are registered and have an updated email, cell phone, home phone and other entries for every member of the family.

Make a plan now for your “go bag” and the items you want in there if you had to walk out of your house in five minutes. It is a sobering effort, but important.

While I ask that residents plan, know that the city is planning, too. We are in pursuit of grants to address wildfire mitigation plans and will be working proactively with authorities to address broader scale fire risks in our county.

Lakeport offers a simpler pace of life, a chance to know your community, a chance to connect with neighbors, a chance to have a positive impact. The actions of our community reaffirmed these community traits.

Stay strong. Stay connected. Stay prepared. Onward.

Margaret Silveira is city manager of Lakeport, Calif.

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