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Can You Count on Your Community in an Emergency?

Woodcreek News
Jack Duran
March 2017
 

You Can Count on Our Community in an Emergency 

The fear of a catastrophic flood from a possible failure of Oroville Dam forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents and nearby hotels, motels and shelters quickly filled. To assist, Placer County opened our fairgrounds, located in Roseville, as a shelter and several hundred evacuees remained there until the evacuation was reduced to a warning.

 They arrived with few belongings and many didn’t know if their homes would be standing or inhabitable once the evacuation was lifted. The pressing question was if the dam’s emergency spillway would fail and put areas below the dam under water. 

Many came to the fairgrounds because shelters closer to their homes were full. Whatever the reason that brought them to the county’s fairgrounds, they were met by an outpouring of assistance, donations and more importantly, I believe, a sense of community. County employees, Roseville City Fire and Police and local residents, stepped up to take care of these people who had been forced from their homes. If there was a need, the community quickly filled it. Through social media, calls went out for needed items and some were filled within minutes. Whether it was clothes, toys and organized activities for children, medical professionals offering assistance to evacuees, pillows or interpreters for several languages, the evacuees’ needs were met. 

In addition to the county staff that helped operate the shelter and disseminate information, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office is to be commended for sending 38 deputies to the evacuation area to assist with law enforcement and rescue operations. When asked to help, county employees can be counted on to provide assistance. 

Typically in an emergency the American Red Cross will set up shelters, but given the size of the evacuation, the Red Cross was simply overwhelmed with sheltering operations closer to the evacuation areas. So we opened the fairgrounds and quickly set up the shelter. 

County employees, some on the clock, but many on their own time, were at the center, giving back to the community. County residents were there too, also giving of their time. Our community never balks at an opportunity to put into action our compassion towards our neighbors.  

In early January, before the dam situation grabbed international attention, we were hit with a series of storms. We were only a few days into the New Year when an atmospheric river opened up and funneled powerful storms into Northern California. The storms and the rain, wind and snow they brought, caused millions of dollars in damage. Roads were washed out, mudslides shut highways, areas were flooded, trees were toppled and power was knocked out, plus a host of other damages. 

Stepping up to the challenge, dedicated Placer County employees worked exceptionally hard to keep the county open and running.  In case you’re not aware of it, in the state of California, Placer County is second only to Caltrans in terms of the miles of roads we are responsible for clearing. When the snow and rain fell, the county Department of Public Works and Facilities were on the job 24-7, working 12-hour shifts around the clock to keep roads cleared. During those storms, employees totaled more than 7,000 hours of overtime. All those hours meant time away from their homes and their families and an opportunity to rest. But it’s what we do for the community. 

Community Bands Together to Voice its Concern over a Sexually Violent Predator 

In yet another example of our taking care of our friends, families and neighbors and ensuring our safety, I want to commend a recent, coordinated community effort between residents and our local governments. Some of you may have heard about a state effort to conditionally release a sexually violent predator into a Lincoln neighborhood where he would be on home supervision with a private contractor. The offender had no connection whatsoever to this area and state fiat was trying to place him here.  

However, the community heard about this ill-suited and dangerous plan and, rightfully so, were outraged. The opposition included nearby residents and other concerned citizens, including 3,000 people who signed a petition opposing the release. They worked with the entire Board of Supervisors, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, the County District Attorney’s Office, the City of Lincoln and other jurisdictions and members of the state legislature. 

The plan to release this pedophile in our community was stopped when a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge refused the offender’s relocation from a locked state facility in Coalinga to Lincoln. The cooperation and coordination that occurred by Placer County officials and residents in this case was inspiring. 

These are all examples of some of the reasons we like to call Placer County home. It’s what we do for our community; we take care of our own. We give of ourselves and go the extra mile to help those in need and ensure safety. 

As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve you. I always welcome your feedback and can be reached by e-mail at jduran@placer.ca.gov or by phone at 916-787-8950.

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