Skip to main content

Response to NorCal 's Massive Wildfires Needs Evaluation -- Without Delay

The Northern California wildfire devastation is nearly impossible to comprehend unless you lived through it, which we have not had to do in Sacramento. But the disaster has touched everyone no matter where they live, and citizens now have opportunities -- if not an outright obligation -- to do what we can in response. Monetary donations are perhaps the easiest, but each of us can also dig deep to see what we can contribute from our own experiences and backgrounds.

No response system is immune from improvement, and the death toll from these wildfires -- now at 41 and rising -- demands a rethinking of how our elected and appointed officials responded to this emergency. Subjects in need of a thorough review include:
* Emergency notification systems; the Sacramento Bee today delves into what worked and what didn't
* Optimal positioning of fire-fighting assets once hurricane-strength winds are forecast and fires break out;
* Many more....

I started this Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies (CHORE) blog after the 2006 earthquakes off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island -- 11 years ago today on Sunday, October 15, 2006. My "Your CHORE" blog detailed the inadequacy of the response, and it's now time for citizens to take up this new chore. Please read the first post from 2006 here at Your CHORE and contribute your thoughts by leaving a Comment.


Popular posts from this blog

COVID-19’s ‘Patton’ Advises Flexibility in Fighting this War; CHORE Suggests Going Further and ‘Breaking the Rules’ when Necessary To Get the Job Done

Oroville Dam's broken spillway in February 2017

Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies (CHORE) is adding Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to the list of emergencies we’ve examined since CHORE was launched nearly 14 years ago
CHORE’S goal has always been improved emergency communications, and its recommendations stem from the writer’s personal experience as a five-decade communicator. We’ve written here and elsewhere on communications failures during and after tsunamis, earthquakes, and wildfires and have used Lessons Learned to propose improvements.
Historians will fill books on the communications response to COVID-19 – who excelled, who didn’t, what worked, what didn’t. Most commentators seem to agree that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is COVID-19’s “Patton.” His daily briefings are been masterful. Alas, nobody has yet emerged as this illness’s “Eisenhower.”
Break the ‘Rules’
Gov. Cuomo’s has been urging flexibility in governments’ response to the virus crisis. That’s good…

Improved Public Information System Needed To Save Lives during California Wildfires in the New Abnormal

More lives were lost in the November 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, CA than in any other fire in the state's history. As of November 20, the count had reached 79, with hundreds of residents still missing.
Survivors have complained they received no warning as flames raced into the community of 27,000 and destroyed nearly every structure. 

As reported widely, officials did not activate a warning system that was designed to issue evacuation alerts. Today’s San Francisco Chronicle reports:
“Like Sonoma County officials last year, authorities in Butte County are coming under attack for not issuing a wide-spread emergency message to cell phones, known as a Wireless Emergency Alert, or WEA, when the fire broke out.

“The high death toll of the Camp Fire is in large part due to people failing to learn of the danger and quickly evacuate. Several burned in their cars.”
Officials said the fire was so hot and fast-moving that “devastation is inevitable, especially as the climate continues…

This is Your CHORE if You Choose to Accept It

CHORE stands for the title of this new blog: 
 Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies.

Specifically, the focus is helping officials in Hawaii respond to emergencies such as the one we just had -- the two earthquakes (6.7 and 6.0 on the scale) that struck the islands on Sunday, October 15, 2006.

"Help" is the operable concept. I get the feeling -- based on news coverage of officialdom's emergency response -- that some good old-fashioned idea mongering and suggestions might help improve communications to our population during and after emergencies.

You be the judge after reading this report in The Honolulu Advertiser today, headlined: "Debate begins on delay of news"

My reaction to that story is that our Civil Defense officials, elected government leaders and broadcast media need to communicate more, not less. Comments by officials in this story suggest a mindset to not tell the population too much for fear the messages might be misunderstood.

My thoughts…