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Storm reveals our local preparedness

Neighbors and agencies pull together to weather snow, floods and power outages

While the snow was piling up in Portola, Quincy residents watched flakes fall from the sky only to be washed away. While waters flooded Indian Valley roads and cut off one of its towns, Almanor Basin residents sighed with relief that they were relatively unfazed. Snow, rain and flooding hopscotched across the county, but every one at some point fell victim to power outages — some more severe than others.

It’s time like these, when the roughly 20,000 of us spread across 2,600 square miles at elevations from 3,209 to 8,343 feet, who reside river front and on mountain tops, realize that we aren’t in this alone.

There are stories across the county of neighbors helping neighbors, and of agencies — private and public — going above and beyond to help residents survive the first major storm of 2017. It really doesn’t matter the season, that same attitude of “we’re in this together” plays out whether it’s a snowstorm, a flood or a fire.

In last week’s editorial, we addressed a two-part article by Plumas County Search and Rescue to recruit new members. (The second part is published in this week’s newspaper.) As part of that opinion piece, we lauded the various emergency response agencies that routinely, as part of their job or as volunteers, work to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.

It’s that very spirit of cooperation that Sheriff Greg Hagwood, who is also the county’s director of the Office of Emergency Services, lauded before the Board of Supervisors last week and in an interview with this newspaper.

“Communication and cooperation between agencies is our strength,” Hagwood said and pointed to the communication between his office and the supervisors, public works, local fire departments, the CHP and other state and local agencies.

The first storm of 2017 also revealed areas that need improvement such as identifying people throughout the county with special medical needs, updating equipment such as backup generators, and developing a platform on social media for the sheriff to “put out accurate information in real time.” He said the latter would benefit not only local residents, but those from outside of the area who have second homes here or friends and family.

The first storm of 2017 reminded long-time residents about how winters used to be and served as a wake-up call for newcomers about the challenges Mother Nature can bring. As the storm approached, residents were encouraged to stock up on food and bottled water, fill their gas tanks, charge their devices, clear drainage areas, and just generally prepare to survive for up to three or four days on their own. Take the time between storms to replenish supplies and evaluate what you could have done differently or what you might have needed, but didn’t have.

If we all do our part to be prepared, we will be in a position to help our neighbors and free up emergency responders to help others. This last storm is a great reminder that we are all in this together.

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