“With the fires, my job was to leave.”
So says Barbara, who had to evacuate in the face of the Santa Cruz fires. Outside of the very real trauma of potentially losing her home, she found that evacuation was “smooth and easy.” No traffic. No rushing. And no anxiety of getting caught by the fire. Why? Because she didn’t wait for an evacuation order. She evacuated early.
Why should you evacuate early?
According to the Fire Safe Marin Evacuation Guide:
“Leave immediately if you receive a notification or alert to avoid being caught in fire, smoke, or road congestion. Don’t wait to be ordered by authorities to leave if you are unsure, feel threatened, or lose power or communications. Law enforcement will direct the evacuation and they will keep intersections open and moving, but their resources may be limited. Evacuating early (before evacuation is ordered) helps keep roads clear of congestion, and lets fire apparatus move more freely to do their job. If you are advised to leave, do not hesitate!”
The dangers of road congestion can not be over-stressed. RebuildSoCal.org, citing a 2020 University of California (UC) report on wildfire evacuations, states that “most evacuees experienced significant congestion along their evacuation routes.” In the case of the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise CA,
“that event illuminated the grim reality that many road systems throughout the state are not designed to handle a sudden emergency evacuation. … and Paradise is not unique in that regard. A USA Today analysis of populations, fire risk zones and roadways showed that one out of every 100 ZIP codes in California has a population-to-evacuation-route ratio that is near to or worse than that of Paradise.”
So, just leave.
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