By Sarah Schrock
My neighborhood is undergoing some growing pains, being the epicenter for the largest subdivisions Twisp has probably seen since the platting of Gloversville in 1897.
We are happy to welcome new neighbors. However, with the advent of new development come conversations regarding traffic, noise, light pollution, safety and preparedness. We recently met as a neighborhood to undertake the “Map My Neighborhood” exercise that MethowReady.org has organized in order to make sure we are prepared and accounted for in the event of a natural disaster.
Do you know what neighborhood you belong to? Sandi Scheinberg from MethowReady.org noted that there are groups near Elbow Coulee, up Twisp River, along Twisp-Winthrop East County Road, and down the Twisp-Carlton Road that have similarly organized. Each neighborhood needs a leader to get it going.
To find your neighborhood or leader, visit MethowReady.org. There are still many areas that need neighborhood leaders to get a group started. This process is a great way to meet new neighbors, identify people at risk, and individual threats to safety and health in event of a disaster. Here are some insights and tasks our group accomplished in about an hour, to give you an idea of how simple it is to be organized.
As another fire season approaches, despite our location in town, green lawns and fire hydrants lining our streets, we all agreed we still harbor risk to wildfire. We are lucky to have a number well-trained emergency responders in our neighborhood, but it’s likely that in an event they will not all be around.
There is only one road out of this neighborhood, which means there’s only one way up for emergency vehicles. During large winter storms, the school bus can’t make it up the hill, which means emergency vehicles may have the same challenge during a winter event. Additionally, given that many of our homes were built during the electric revolution in the aftermath of the dam building era, many of us have electric heat rather than wood or gas, leaving us vulnerable to the cold during a power outage.
Our neighborhood leader, Alan Caswell, equipped us with aerial photos, “Map My Neighborhood” brochures and checklists, and a roster of contact information. First we broke our neighborhood up into “pods” and appointed a pod leader. The pod leader is responsible for checking in and contacting each home/resident in their pod during an emergency. Each pod contains about nine homes.
Second, we updated our contact information. Each pod leader is responsible for adding residents who were not present. We established a neighborhood gathering place for times of emergency. This is a home with a built-in generator so that people can have a place with hot water, electricity to charge phones or medical equipment, and warmth.
The gathering place is a mini-logistics center where neighbors can check in for information and swap goods or favors during a time of need. From here, each pod leader will update their lists, report back to the neighborhood leader and, if necessary, schedule another meeting/potluck.
Now on a completely different note, the Headwaters Campaign hosted a music festival at the John Doran ranch just north of Twisp on July 2. Organized by John Doran, Hannah Dewey from the campaign, and the Wilderness Society, the free event included tours of salmon habitat restoration projects, local musical lineups, a pig roast, beer and cider, and a community potluck. While there was no officially tally, at least 300 event attendees came together in celebration of protecting the valley from a proposed copper mine in the Flagg Mountain area just northeast of Mazama. It was a powerful display of community and fun times were had by all.
Also, don’t forget to attend the candidate’s forum at the Twisp Valley Grange at 6 p.m. Monday (July 11) to hear from the candidates running in the upcoming election for the Okanogan County Commission’s District 2 seat.