Disaster readiness moves ahead


The Point Reyes Disaster Council was pleased to recently present some news and updates at the Point Reyes Station Village Association's first coastal communities forum. 

Tomales residents have a newly formed civilian disaster council that began with the purchase of hand-held radios and a transmitter-receiver, through a grant from the West Marin Fund. With help from Senior Fire Captain Tom Nunes, several residents are focusing on bringing in other volunteers, along with schools and businesses. Tomales now aligns with the civilian communications system that extends from Muir Beach to Dillon Beach and into Nicasio and San Geronimo Valleys. 

San Geronimo Valley’s disaster-readiness group now has a dedicated communications base in Woodacre, thanks to the continuing guidance of KWMR’s Richard Dillman and a FEMA grant obtained some years ago by Libby Colman, my predecessor. The Tomales and Woodacre advances help relieve the Point Reyes system from a potential overburden in fielding those communities’ civilian calls, while allowing for possible networking on a regional basis.

In the past year, the Coastal Health Alliance agreed to partner with the Point Reyes Disaster Council to assist with medical treatment and care needs during a disaster. Thanks go to the alliance’s Steve Siegel and Dinelle Abram, Marin Medical Reserve Corps’ Marty Frankel and Senior Fire Captain Randy Engler for working through the details.

A way to register animals—horses and large or companion animals—with the Marin Humane Society was also newly offered to the community. The M.H.S. records descriptions of animals in its database in order to know who to look for if animals are lost when neighborhoods evacuate. The society does not give up! While we’re upgrading the council’s website, where documents like the animal registration form will be downloadable, I can email a copy to anyone.

An emerging demographic issue is another result of aging and changing households. With fewer year-round residents, and for those times that people may be away or otherwise out of commission, we truly need everyone capable to be engaged. The Point Reyes Disaster Council, which covers Inverness Park, Olema, Point Reyes Station and Marshall, is asking that younger folks and newer residents join us by stepping into the roles diligently carried out by some of the older locals now in their late 60s and early 70s, many of whom worked and raised children while volunteering for their neighborhood watch just an hour or so a month. While many have historical experience from the iconic disasters that gave rise to the council, energy and stamina can flag after the rush of adrenaline fades, a simple fact of life. 

Some of this generational shift is already taking place as younger residents become directors of local boards. We're optimistic this will continue for the disaster council—and ask that you join us. We’re also developing trainings for our neighbors who are Spanish-only speakers. One way to bridge an English-Spanish divide is for more bilingual residents to come aboard; I'd like to thank those who’ve stepped up so far. Finally, thanks go to every Point Reyes Disaster Council volunteer, past and present. For those who’ve been thinking about it, please get in touch. In our essence, the council is deeply a community organization. It’s all about “us,” neighbor-to-neighbor, devoted to our mutual welfare. 

Lynn Axelrod, a Point Reyes Station resident, coordinates the Point Reyes Disaster Council. She can be reached at lynnaxelrod@hotmail.com.