Forum will help Sisters Country residents be prepared
Last updated 4/18/2023 at 12:27pm
Sisters is a beautiful — and vulnerable — place.
Our forested landscape leaves the community under the constant threat of wildfire — but there are other threats, too: severe weather; power outages; the potential fallout from a major earthquake along the coast.
To help raise awareness and the preparedness level of Sisters’ citizenry, Citizens4Community (C4C) will host a forum on May 11 at Sisters Fire Hall titled “Emergencies in Sisters Country: Be Prepared.” This will be the fourth forum hosted by C4C and sponsored by The Nugget Newspaper focusing on issues of vital interest to the Sisters community.
The forum will bring together several experts in emergency preparedness and response, and will offer actionable ideas to help local residents be ready when inevitable crises arise.
Sisters Fire Chief Roger Johnson will describe the All Hazard Response System in the community, coordination with partners, how it scales up to involve others, including the governor and federal agencies, depending upon the level of crisis. He will also discuss planning with the City for crisis response.
Sgt. Nathan Garibay, Deschutes County emergency services manager, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, will talk about hazards beyond wildfire. He will describe interagency coordination; a family emergency handbook; the local alert system; evacuation tools and routes; FireWise programs; and county grant programs.
Moderator Jim Barnett notes that evacuation planning is a key issue for local residents.
“A lot of subdivisions have evacuation issues,” he said. “I do.”
He said that advance planning is critical, because there may not be much time to figure out how to get out of trouble when a crisis hits.
A lot of these people have to understand that they need to be ready,” Barnett said.
Ian Reid, Sisters District Ranger, will discuss Forest Service response to wildfires, wildfire preparedness and mitigation, and federal jurisdiction including federal incident management.
Carrie Sammons of the Central and Eastern Oregon Chapter, Red Cross, will describe her experience in Paradise, California, which was nearly completely destroyed by wildfire. She’ll also talk about recent California flooding and discuss emergencies locally, focusing on Red Cross response for evacuation and temporary shelter, with some insights into FEMA response to emergencies.
Devin Thompson, executive director of the McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group, will describe his firsthand experience with the 2020 Holiday Farm fire — one of the state’s devastating 2020 wildfires that destroyed 500 homes and burned nearly 175,000 acres seemingly overnight. He is helping the community rebuild and will discuss the role of Ford Family Foundation and Sisters-based The Roundhouse Foundation in the recovery. He will relate lessons learned, and make recommendations for Sisters Country.
Concerns about insurance have moved to the forefront of many local residents’ minds in the past couple of years. Tammy Taylor, long-time local insurance agent, will talk about insurance as another aspect of “personal preparedness,” with a focus on creating defensible space, and the importance of reviewing insurance policies to prevent underinsurance. She will discuss what the controversial fire map and underlying SB 762 does to change the local insurance industry.
Jack McGowan is a director of Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District and a longtime proponent of personal preparedness. His topics include personal preparedness, creating a wildfire crisis strategy, and building a family emergency preparedness kit.
Barnett notes that the forum is focused on individual and family readiness so that the public can learn “not just what the government does for them, but what they can do for themselves.”
There will be opportunities for public questions and information on resources.
The event will run 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 11. The Sisters Fire District Community Hall is located at 301 S. Elm St. in Sisters.