Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Officials stress importance of having an emergency plan

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Two dozen local and county officials met Oct. 6 to discuss disaster preparedness and evacuation plans for the area. The meeting was organized by Rachel Mason, CEO of the Fallbrook Regional Health District, at the recommendation of County Supervisor Jim Desmond.

Mason said another meeting that will include many of the same experts – as well as the public – will be scheduled. She is working on a list of resources for residents.

The major takeaway from the meeting is that everyone should have an emergency plan and make sure they are on emergency call lists, including reverse 911 and other contact services.

Mason said this initial meeting was important for collaboration and planning. With so many agencies, sometimes it's difficult for residents to know the best resources.

Speakers at the meeting represented law enforcement, fire, SDG&E, the county Office of Emergency Services, the Foundation for Senior Care, public health, Fallbrook Fire Safe Council and others.

With Santa Ana winds and fall fire season approaching, residents were urged to have family meetings to review emergency plans.

"Personal preparedness is everyone's responsibility," said Daniel Vasquez, emergency services coordinator at the OES.

He suggested having a family meeting to establish or review plans, and for people that are homebound to have an advocate.

Kevin Mahr, deputy fire chief of the North County Fire Protection District, provided a map of fire escape routes for Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow. There was also a separate map for DeLuz. The information is available on its web page, https://www.ncfire.org/emergency-information.

Speakers noted that since the area was not a city, there may be agencies that overlap, as well as potential gaps in service. For example, NCFPD is responsible for homes and buildings and Cal Fire is responsible for the brush, Mahr noted.

The county has a wealth of information on its web page, Mason said, but it can also be overwhelming for some. She said the resource guide she is developing will provide basic useful information, including how to handle pets and farm animals needing assistance. Alert San Diego handles services for residents who are deaf, blind or hard of hearing. There are still people without a computer or smart phones who use a land line, who need resources, too.

The county's reverse 911 service is coordinated by the county Office of Emergency Services. To register to receive emergency notices, or make sure you are registered, visit https://www.readysandiego.org/.

SDG&E also sends emergency notifications. Its priority is the safety of customers and during adverse weather conditions, a Public Safety Power Shutoff may be used to help prevent potential wildfires. This is always a last resort and done to help protect communities. To sign-up to receive notifications regarding outages, visit https://www.sdge.com/notifications.

Fire seems to be the greatest emergency threat, but there is also the potential for an earthquake or other disasters.

Lt. Aldo Hernandez of the Sheriff Department's substation in Fallbrook said visiting the department's Twitter account is the quickest way to find information. Another option is through the local amateur radio club.

Mahr said social media is often the quickest way get current information. The NCFPD has active Facebook and Twitter accounts. He said an evacuation plan is important for residents because in high wind conditions there may not be time to think of what action to take. Having a bag ready and a definite plan of action is essential. "You may have only minutes," he said, giving the example of the Lilac fire in December 2017 that ripped through Rancho Monserate Country Club, a community of 216 manufactured homes.

A representative from the Fallbrook Fire Safe Council said having defensible space is essential and there are grants available to help clear brush. Crews from Camp Pendleton will help the elderly, disabled and veterans, he said.

Care for seniors was a main topic of the hour-plus meeting. The group discussed the need to have a plan for seniors and the homebound. The Foundation for Senior Care noted they have an extensive list of seniors they serve but that doesn't include everyone who is homebound.

One issue is people who "aged in place" in their home but could need help in an emergency.

"We're known as the Friendly Village and now is the time to put that into practice by helping one another," Mason said.

Another thing the group mentioned is the need to have information available in both English and Spanish. They said it was also important to provide information in "old school formats" of flyers and newspapers.

 

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