Join first responder and other officials for an evening session March 6th from 6-8pm at the Civic Center, in the Marin County Board of Supervisors chamber, Suite 330.
With the destructive and fatal North Bay wildfires and Montecito mudslides in mind, Marin County is hosting a countywide conversation March 6th to take a hard look at lessons learned from those incidents, hear feedback and ideas from residents, and boost awareness of existing programs and emergency preparations. Stakeholders from an array of agencies and local government offices will convene in what’s being billed as a listening session to develop potential agenda items for the Board of Supervisors.
The conversation will be hosted by the Supervisors’ emergency preparedness subcommittee of Judy Arnold and Dennis Rodoni, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and the Marin County Fire Department. All community input from the meeting will be considered while recommendations to the Board are developed. Key topics for the March 6th meeting, dubbed the Wildland Fire Preparedness Community Conversation, will be vegetation management on public lands and open space, evacuation procedures, emergency notification systems, and resources to help residents prepare for any sort of disaster.
The North Bay fires killed 43 people and burned more than 100,000 acres in October 2017. The County of Marin contributed to the relief effort by opening a temporary shelter at the Marin County Fairgrounds, and hundreds of people found respite there for almost a week. Another 21 people were killed in the Santa Barbara County community of Montecito in January when rain pelted areas previous scorched in the Thomas Fire and caused fast-moving mud flows through neighborhoods. Dozens of trained personnel from Marin agencies provided aid statewide during the fires, and a regional urban search-and-rescue strike team from Marin participated in the rescue efforts.
Jason Weber, Chief of the Marin County Fire Department, said a year- around wildfire season is “the new normal” because of recent weather patterns, climate change, and the proximity of so many homes to Marin’s beautiful open spaces. Defensible space around homes and disaster readiness is a daily concern in his business. “The only thing that separated Marin from the fire disasters in October was ignition – a burning ember in the wind touching down and starting a fire near us,” Weber said. “Since we know it could happen here, emergency preparedness should not be seen as optional. The prevalent procrastination needs to be replaced by real action.” The Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the Board of Supervisors, and Marin County Parks will have personnel at the event along with County Fire to answer questions and collect feedback.
A committee comprised of various officials – from fire and law enforcement, insurance experts, towns, cities, the County, the state and the federal government – will collaborate on final recommendations for the Supervisors to consider. “This community conversation is an opportunity to bring the public in, let residents hear what we’ve done, what we’ve discovered, and where we’re going with it,” said Chris Reilly, County Emergency Services Manager.
The Civic Center is at 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. Plenty of free parking is available in the County lots. Visitors are urged to enter through the south archway, closest to North San Pedro Drive, and proceed to the Board chamber on the third floor. In the meantime, register your contact information with AlertMarin.org so you’ll be notified in case of any significant local emergency.