Western Water Gary Pitzer
Lessons From the Flames: Advice From Water Managers Who Have Lived Through Disaster
California water managers who have lived through a devastating wildfire and its aftermath have shared key lessons from their experiences.
READ: As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
What follows are suggestions and advice offered by water managers in interviews and during public presentations for others to keep in mind before, during and after a major wildfire.
- Think about what can happen and how to respond. How vulnerable are your pipes?
- Know what things FEMA will reimburse ahead of time
- Know what your insurance covers, including business interruption insurance
- Have emergency reserve funds available to pay immediate bills
- Stockpile pipes and other materials needed for emergency repairs to critical assets
- Make sure you have adequate backup power available and load test it periodically
- Establish an off-site command center for water agency operations and be prepared to use it
- Send someone to the fire incident command center to aid coordination
- Request mutual aid before you need it
- Document expenses from the start for FEMA reimbursement
- Issue public notices and updates without delay
- Two-way radios, rather than cellphones, are essential for communicating with emergency responders
- Get as much recovery work done under an emergency order as you can to streamline repairs
- Notify ALL permitting agencies prior to work
- Sample water in pipelines for contamination and prepare to flush the lines as needed
REMEMBER: Emergency response is a sprint; disaster recovery is a marathon