LWA Staff Emergency Plan in Place, Residents Responsible, Too
Staff Plan to assist with fire event evacuation: It appears that many residents continue to think that the Lake Wildwood staff and Stonegate Security staff have no plans in place in case of a fire event evacuation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, last year’s event was a real learning experience and has encouraged use to institutionalize procedures that will help notify residents of an evacuation and will assist evacuating residents from the Community. With that noted, it is critical that all residents must take responsibility for themselves in that everyone should be prepared to receive various notices available to you; have your “go” supplies ready for an evacuation; and have a good understanding of how you plan to proceed when an evacuation notice is given.
Now, what is the Staff Plan in case of a fire evacuation? Assuming any staff is allowed to remain on-site, all or most Public Works staff will remain on-site to help notify residents, direct traffic and perform required maintenance such as clearing Lake Wildwood streets of debris such as large broken branches or fallen trees caused by heavy winds which is typical in a fire event.
In addition to the Public Works staff that will remain on-site to perform the above duties, Stonegate will call in and get as many security officers as possible to alert residents of the evacuation; assist residents as best possible if for some reason they are not able to evacuate on their own; and to direct traffic internally. Warning of the evacuation by security and Public Works staff will be improved in any future event with powerful megaphones that were recently purchase.
In regard to traffic flow to the two main gates that wasn’t very efficient in 2017 during the evacuation, this issue will be resolved as best possible by placement of directional barriers in strategic locations. These barriers with signage directing drivers to the appropriate gate will help move half the traffic to the North Gate and half to the Main Gate. If there is sufficient staff to direct traffic in various locations, security or Public Works staff will be posted in various locations in addition to the barriers.
An important responsibility during a fire event evacuation is communication. Although staff made a great effort to communicate with residents during the last evacuation, we were not familiar with the protocol and the lack of power created huge challenges.
We now understand that it is important for someone to get to the Command Center which is usually in the Nevada City County buildings. That person, typically the General Manager or Director of Administration and Communications will then be in direct contact with authorities who will be at the Command Center.
The staff person who is in the Command Center then can communicate in conjunction with the authorities to staff on-site. In addition, this person can communicate with staff who will typically be the Director of Administration and Communications so that person can send out information to the residents via email.
Keep in mind that these communication plans and all other staff plans are dependent on circumstances such as what the authorities will allow, the fire locations and staff availability will allow, which brings me to what restrictions staff has that many residents don’t clearly understand.
Often I have heard about the need to open the gates to the emergency exits and direct resident out those gates.
Unless there are very usual circumstances, staff should wait for the authorities to direct residents out of the emergency gates to assure we are not directing people into the fires and to assure that once vehicles pass through the gates, the roads will be passable. Keep in mind that most of the emergency exist roads are narrow dirt roads that are not well maintained. One vehicle getting stuck on one of these roads can halt traffic and create a huge traffic jam. The exception to opening the emergency gates would be the Fair Oaks Drive gate which leads to a maintained road terminating on Pleasant Valley Road.
The other important area where staff has no authority is traffic control on the public streets. Only the authorities such as the Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol or Fire Department can direct traffic on public streets.
Our staff can direct traffic internally as noted above and encourage driving to exit through one gate or another but once someone enters the public streets, they need to depend on the authorities to direct traffic. Of course, if a Sheriff were to direct a security officer to direct traffic along Pleasant Valley Road, the patrol officer would follow directions.
In relation to internal road and public road traffic control, please keep in mind that the most efficient evacuation possible according to the authorities will take several hours. This scenario means that everyone should be prepared to take alternative measures if necessary such as sheltering in place if required.
Staff’s plan was not presented in detail. However, I hope and anticipate you now understand that considerable thought has been given to staffs’ responsibilities and plan in the event of a wildfire. As long as circumstances and the authorities will allow, the Lake Wildwood Team will be here to do everything possible to help you in a fire event. Yet once again, it is critical that everyone take personal responsibility to prepare for a fire event.
New Fees and Some Increased Fees for 2019/20:
New fees have been approved, such as a fee for parking an RV in one of the Park parking lots or lower Clubhouse parking lot, plus there are other new fees, and several fees have been increased. Please review the new Fee Schedule so you’re not surprised.
Lake and E. coli: Just a Reminder that the County has Lifted the “No Swim” Advisory. That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily safe to swim in this lake or any other “natural” body of water. Any natural body of water is exposed to a number of elements that may be harmful. On the other hand, many thousands of residents and guests have used the Lake for 50 years and only an extremely small percentage of lake users have had any health issues from using the Lake.
Keep in mind that testing is performed on a continual basis during this time of the year. The cautious action to take is to check the latest test results on the Lake Wildwood website before using the Lake, refrain from letting children play along the shoreline where exposure to E. coli can be the greatest, and do not ingest lake water.
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