If you are starting to get that uneasy feeling with the high temperatures looming and persistent winds, me too. Like an itch you can’t scratch the impending dread that comes with the threat of catastrophic fire nags. We had such a blessing last summer with virtually no fire or smoke, at least until September, when we were plagued by Canada’s smoke for weeks on end. With the smokeless summer last year on the tail end of the pandemic that coincided with lifting mask mandates, our home’s stash of N-95s has dwindled down to nothing.
In fact, much of our emergency supplies need to be replenished. The emergency readiness tote has admittedly been pilfered over the years for things like extra batteries, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and bottled water. How long does bottled water last anyway, or instant mashed potatoes?
If you are a subscriber to the Okanogan County Emergency Management notification system, which you should be, you should have gotten information about a couple fires that ignited on June 14. I signed up for the notification, but I didn’t get the text, only an email, hmm …
On the upside of emergency preparedness, our neighborhood emergency plans are in full swing, having recently been updated with new contact information. If you live in a neighborhood without a plan, you can download the Methow Ready neighborhood planning tool from their website and get your neighborhood organized. It’s a good way to ensure no one doesn’t get the message in the event of an evacuation or disaster.
Fire protection is getting more troublesome here in the valley as some residents’ insurance companies have dropped their coverage, informing them that their residences are too high-risk for wildfire. I imagine more of these types of dropped coverages will continue, which has happened all over California with State Farm withdrawing from residential coverage market altogether.
Shame on the insurers; however, the last five years of homeowners underwriting has only seen one year of profit. The industry attributes the loss to more people moving into risk zones, increased catastrophic losses due to weather related events, along with cost of construction and rebuilding skyrocketing since the pandemic. Turns out the scientists’ warnings were right about this stuff happening.
It feels shameful because someone who has coverage, who has made strides to be as defensible as possible and who never made a claim, gets dropped. But I guess they need to cut costs wherever they can to keep paying six- and seven-digit figures to their executives, so they can send their kids to elite private schools, maintain their yachts, and take lobbyists out to dinner.
Meanwhile, we are still trying to fireproof our fence lines with clippers and electric chainsaws or mow our lean green defensible space. Just imagine if some of that money were spent on actually helping homeowners prevent wildfire spread on their property? What a novel idea, an insurance company that took a proactive approach to prevention. Washington state requires health plans to cover standard preventative care, why not employ this same logic with wildfire protection?