Nevada County unveils wildfire and evacuation dashboard
Special to the Sierra Sun
The Nevada County Office of Emergency Services unveiled a new tool Tuesday it hopes will be residents’ one-stop shop for emergency preparedness.
The Ready Nevada County Dashboard brings together emergency planning and forecasting tools with a real-time wildfire and evacuation incident dashboard, and features additional capabilities activated during a crisis.
“(We) wanted to provide a tool for the public that would serve their needs before, during and after an emergency incident,” Emergency Operations Coordinator Lt. Bob Jakobs told the Board of Supervisors.
Jakobs encouraged people to use the dashboard’s evacuation route pre-planner tool to map three different ways out of an evacuation area. He said people should print out the maps and put them in a go-bag or inside their car rather than trying to use the planner during an evacuation.
“We do encourage people to familiarize themselves with this interface before it’s actually needed,” Jakobs said. “This is where we want people to come before an emergency happens. This is not something we want people to use during an actual incident.”
During an emergency incident the dashboard will outline evacuation areas and shelter areas and provide Code Red alerts. During evacuations a feature allowing evacuees to check-in with their name and location will be available to help reunite people and cut down on missing persons reports, Jakobs said.
The dashboard also provides real-time traffic and hazardous weather conditions, PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-off forecasts, emergency alerts, COVID-19 updates, and access to live fire cams throughout the county.
While the dashboard contains a lot information that could be overwhelming for some, Supervisor Ed Scofield said people will be eager to figure it out.
“I think if I can learn how to do it, then I think my constituents can do it,” Scofield said.
At the meeting interim Public Health Officer Dr. Richard Johnson told the board while recent state numbers are somewhat encouraging, he’s still cautious about the local outlook.
“We are our either good, lucky or we’re blessed, because our numbers continue to look good,” Johnson said, referring to the county remaining off the state’s monitoring.
Nevada County had tallied a total of 288 coronavirus cases as of Thursday morning. Of those, 252 have recovered.
According to Johnson, while the county is not close to the state threshold, just a few cases could strain the rural business and hospital infrastructure enough for the state to step in.
He said cases have been linked to gatherings involving multiple households, including dance parties, business events and family functions.
Johnson also raised concerns that the way tests are reported — through a patient’s county of residence — cases could be undercounted and limit the ability of contact tracers to effectively quarantine potential carriers. He said in Alpine County, where he is also the public health officer, he discovered five cases that were transmitted in the county but reported elsewhere due to a patient’s residence.
Coupled with testing result delays and sometimes uncooperative patients, the mix could create a challenge for slowing the spread, Johnson said.
John Orona is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. Contact him by email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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Nevada County will receive two years of zone-based evacuation planning services, thanks to a donation from private software company Zonehaven.