Saturday, 13 April 2024

Jarrett: Confusion about evacuation zones

On Aug. 18 there was a large fire in Clearlake which crossed into Lower Lake. Our skies were filled with billowing black clouds as homes lost power in nearby neighborhoods including my own.

We received a phone call. We heard Sheriff Martin saying an important message followed, and then a woman’s robo-voice saying evacuations were ordered for zones … (numbers garbled).

We had no idea of our “zone number” and while we accept full responsibility for being ill-prepared, we were not alone. We received distressed calls from neighbors asking, “What’s our zone? Are we supposed to evacuate?”

I would like to suggest that the county, or the fire districts, or disaster preparedness, or somebody, mail out postcards telling residents what zone they live in. I would be more than happy to donate to a fund to pay for postage and printing. I would also like to suggest that maps indicating zones be posted in public places like city hall, the post office and the library. It does no good to have an evacuation system if residents are not aware of it.

I later talked to a friend who found out about her zone by looking online. But community leaders cannot assume that all citizens have access to, or even the wherewithal to be looking up their addresses on line to find their evacuation zone.

Our first responders, the firemen, police, helicopter and plane pilots and their crews all did an awesome job. They worked together as a precision team to combat a fierce enemy: a raging fire that destroyed property, sadly, people’s homes. But no lives were lost.

Those of us in the community need to get our act together as well, and be as prepared as we can be. But we need some help. Let’s start with the paper publishing the website where zones are listed and then consider a mail out. I’m all in to help with that.

Carolynn Jarrett lives in Clearlake, California.

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