LYONS – In responding to emergencies, preparation is everything. After watching footage of the Japanese tsunami, I was struck by how relatively low the death toll was compared to the 2004 tsunami that devastated countries around the Indian Ocean.
The news reported that in Japan they had an extensive early warning system and households practiced drills on what to do if disaster struck. While we are not in such a high-risk zone, the fires in Four Mile Canyon last year and closer fires this year on Coffintop and Blue Mountain Road as well as the threats of flooding in the St. Vrain bring to focus that in fact our community needs emergency preparedness.
About six months ago, I got a call inviting me to a meeting of the mountain mayors to discuss emergency management. Since that call, the mayors and community leaders of Nederland, Ward, Allenspark, Gold Hill, Jamestown and Lyons have been meeting monthly. It started with an in-depth and very insightful review of what worked and what did not in the fires of last year. It was interesting to hear the lessons learned from the community perspective, from how to support the firefighters and emergency service personnel that are out on the front lines, to how to make sure that vulnerable people in the community are identified and incorporated into emergency plans.
As part of that planning, I borrowed the only copy of the Lyons emergency plan to bring to a meeting in Nederland, hoping that no flood or fire would happen while I had the plan with me. As with
other communities, what we found in comparing notes was that the County emergency services and local fire departments are very well organized in the ‘official’ response, but that there was a gap on the community side in terms of citizens knowing what to do in the case of emergencies, where to get information, how to help if needed, and establishing responsibilities in terms of local outreach.
We agreed to develop a Community Emergency Plan using a common template. As a happy coincidence, a Boulder County emergency services employee and Lyons resident Lisa Ladue attended those meetings and has volunteered to spearhead the formulation of this plan for Lyons with Town Staff and in coordination with the local fire and emergency services folks. Lisa Ladue has a long experience in disaster response both in the US and internationally so we are delighted to have her agree to help on this. If anyone else is interested in participating in this effort, please let me know at email@example.com.
In the meantime, the first responsibility of each citizen is to figure out which emergencies put you at risk, for instance whether you live in the flood plain or near forests susceptible to fire. Take the time to plan for how you will take care of yourself and your family during such an emergency. Boulder County has a pamphlet that can help, including a 72-hour family emergency kit checklist and helpful reminders to establish how your family will stay in contact during disasters and how to reach out to neighbors who may have special needs. You can download a copy of this at the Boulder County Emergency Management website (http://boulderoem.com/files/Boulder_Co_Emer_Prep_Guide.pdf.). The website also provides up-to-date reporting on any emergencies in the County. In the case of something that affects Lyons, Town puts the OEM link on the Town of Lyons website (www.townoflyons.com).
Meeting on how to better respond to natural disasters has led to the discovery of common interests between our small mountain communities in Boulder County. For example, the other communities have been eager to learn of the Lyons Community Foundation experience and LCF representatives have made presentations to the group. We will also be looking at outreach for human service programs where people may not be as aware of offerings like health insurance for qualifying children. It’s a very dynamic group and we will continue to identify areas where we can work together.
Before closing, I want to acknowledge the contributions made by four outgoing members of Lyons’ boards and commissions who have resigned in the last two months for work and family commitments or to pursue other interests.
Marty Hine, who chaired the Planning and Community Development Commission, was instrumental in many of the PCDC’s achievements, including rewriting the zoning code and developing the 2010 Comprehensive Plan Update. His commitment to planning issues and institutional knowledge of Lyons’ history helped guide the PCDC through these often thorny topics.
Jul Swann, former chair of the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission, led the development of expanding the art and sculpture all over town implemented through the town’s first Public Art Policy, which put in place a process for evaluating and determining sites for public art. In large measure thanks to her efforts, we now have a significant number of art pieces on Main Street.
Julie Waugh, outgoing member of the Library Board, led the ad-hoc committee to begin discussions on the possibilities for a new library in Lyons. And Larry Hudson, who had chaired the Board of Adjustments for many years, provided leadership to the BOA as they conducted hearings and made decisions on some very difficult and complex disputes.
On behalf of the BOT, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks for their efforts.
Julie Van Domelen was elected mayor of Lyons in 2009 in a special election. She was re-elected mayor in April 2010. Mayor Van Domelen works part time as an economist for the World Bank. She lives with her family in Lyons and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to Top