Office of Emergency Services gathers for contingency plan
The purpose of the meeting, Jackson said, was to check on how the public services of the county were performing during the county-wide power outage that occurred Monday night and most of Tuesday. The other main reason for the meeting was to plan for emergency heating shelters for people in the event that the power was out for an extended period of time.
Jackson said there is an impact to some public services when the power goes out, such as Health and Human services and LMUD, while law and enforcement and fire protection were still pretty much in their routine.
“The sheriff’s office, the fire department and the police department were out their doing their job,” Jackson said. “Health and Human Services had a major impact (from the outage). They had to get out and check on their clients, to see if they can get their prescriptions and medications.”
Jackson said the main concern of the meeting was the health and welfare of the people in the county, and by gathering the different players from the different agencies involved in serving Lassen County, he was able to ask and get feedback about the most important issues.
“Everybody seemed to be doing fine,” Jackson said. “LMUD was busting their hump to get the power back on. It was a planning meeting. If any of the departments needed help completing their objective, then part of the plan was to see if they needed help from any of the other available departments.”
Jackson said emergency planning meetings like this aren’t normally called until a power outage extends into the night and next day. In the event that another long power outage occurs in the near future, Jackson said those seeking shelter from the cold could go to one of the emergency shelters they have in place. Not all shelters will be available, as some of them would be in the same situation as everyone else with no heat. In Westwood, people could go to the Westwood Community Center, while people in Janesville would go to the fire station. He said the Honey Lake Assembly of God and the National Guard Armory were other options used in the past as heating stations as well.
“It just depends,” Jackson said. “There are a wide variety of buildings we would use that are in our strategic plan.”
Susanville Fire Department Chief Stu Ratner said while some of the services did setup shelters where it was believed they were needed, they were never utilized because the power did eventually come back on.
“If in fact (the outage) went another day, a lot of people would have probably needed to go someplace because they would have been cold. Sometimes we’ve set (the heating stations) up and people don’t utilize them, even though you have them in place.”
Getting the word out about the shelters can be especially difficult when the radio is also down,” Ratner said. He said they did have some emergency broadcasting setup with radio stations in Reno and Alturas.
Jackson was actually on those stations during the power outage, explaining what the situation was and what people should have available in an emergency situation.
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