Throughout history, civilization has withstood earthquakes, severe storms, floods, landslides and wildfires. Even when we are prepared, emergencies can leave us with little more than our lives. However, preparing for emergencies can mean the difference between feeling strong and feeling helpless.
When the deadliest wildfire in California history hit Butte County in Northern California in November 2018, many died and thousands more lost their homes. Among them was Fay, a retired EBMUD employee. After decades of participating in EBMUD emergency preparedness discussions, exercises and trainings, when the Camp Fire appeared in her backyard, Fay was ready to go. She grabbed her already-packed go-bag and evacuated ahead of many others.
“I’m not a victim,” Fay says of her escape. “I’m a survivor.”
You Are Not Alone
Emergencies strike not only individuals, but communities, too. So don’t try to prepare for one on your own. Throughout the Bay Area, neighborhood associations are devising group emergency plans and stocking communal supplies so they can help each other when it matters most.
In Oakland, Hiyasmin started an emergency preparedness group within her 16-unit gated community. In three years she and her neighbors have prepared emergency go-bags, purchased water storage containers, created emergency evacuation maps and meeting locations, trained on how to manually open the gate should there be a power outage, created a list of residents with CPR training, and taken inventory of all pets, allergies and other special needs.
“I’m a native Californian so I’m very aware of what can happen,” Hiyasmin says. “Then when I had a child, I felt I needed to be more prepared. We’re far from done, but we’re at a point where we feel good about it.”