1) Emergency Contact List
Earlier this year, we updated our emergency contact list as part of our COVID planning. Each member in our community has an emergency contact peson and phone number, a neighbor within the community that they communicate with in case they contracted COVID and we even had a plan on how to support members if they did fall ill. This preparation leant itself generously to other emergencies such as the fire.
2) Fire Prep Maintenance
In June, we launched a full day work party for clearing our property. Nevada City Cohousing sits on 10 acres, with 6 acres of wooded forest. Each block united and we began clearing anything and everything that was within close proximity to our homes. All the vines were trimmed and trees were pruned. We relaid loose gravel in areas within 4 feet of houses so that flying embers would not start fires next to our home.
After the days' work, we celebrated with a distanced BBQ on our common house patio, hot dogs and all.
As a new member of the community, I hadn't been accustomed to 'fire season' in cohousing, but luckily, our community already had protocol for exiting our homes in emergency. "Emergency evacuation cards" in case of a fire or other natural disasters were already created and conveniently hanging in my top kitchen cabinet. If I did evacuate, I just needed to put the 'red card' on my door to say that I had already evacuated or the 'white card' saying that I knew it was time to evacuate, but I was still inside.
Our COHO email list serv consistently updated us on the proximity of the fire, where families were evacuating to, what hotels still had availability and who was taking care of the chickens! Having the community to rely on in hard times and effective protocol and preparations took the heat out of the situation...no pun intended.
Luckily, we're all home and there were no immediate fire threats to our homes. In this time of climate change, we know this won't be our last emergency. We are lucky to have neighbors we can count on.