Water is life

Westside residents voiced their concerns with erosion and how to better prepare for yet another evacuation.

by Karen Leslie, writer with heart

Hoping for just a sprinkle and not a down pour, was just one of the main topics open for discussion for the 100 plus Westsider’s who attended the Ventura Westside Community Council Meeting held at Bell Arts Factory January 3rd.

The evening began with a lively atmosphere of friends meeting friends and neighbors greeting neighbors. President of WCC, Tomas Luna set the evening’s tone and intention, one with the hope of finding answers, resolving and taking action to help prepare for yet another impending monstrous disaster, the possibility and probability of mudslides. With the hills baron and nothing to stop them from sliding and destroying everything in their path, homes and lives are at stake, not to mention the hills themselves.

With Westside residents still reeling from the bottlenecking, and challenging escape routes of the Dec. 4th fires, they voiced their concerns with erosion and how to better prepare for yet another evacuation.

This triggered a chain reaction which changed the climate of the evening to a Q&A session. WCC Treasurer, Tomás Rebecchi shares, “I think overall the meeting was successful. We learned the emergency alert systems and evacuation routes can be improved and made more accessible. This is just a starting point, many questions still remain unanswered and we will continue to organize and strongly support local agencies to improve and prepare for future emergencies and hoping for more answers at the next meeting Feb. 7th.

CFROG(Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas), Kimberly Rivers says, “The Thomas Fires moved through many oil fields including Ventura oil fields which straddles the Westside Community, all the hillsides have the potential for movement and mudslides.”

Assistant Ventura Police Chief Darin Schindler shares, “We are pleased with the attendance of so many residents and the department is already preparing to be proactive instead of reactive.”

Ashley Bautista encouraged home residents to register with VC Alert, an emergency notification system that delivers alerts when there is a threat to the health and safety of residents.

Fire Marshal Joe Morelli states,” Residents should prepare for a rain and debris flow event by planning and staying informed on what to do during an emergency by visiting; www.readyventuracounty.org and www.venturacountyrecovers.org also checking local weather channels for updates. A moderate to heavy rainfall event is anticipated in the Thomas Fire areas next week.”

These hard working conscientious people are part of a team effort to find answers to many of the concerns in the minds and hearts of this Westside community. New resident, Andrea Beenham shares, “I am impressed with the camaraderie and openness of the community.”

Wildfires alter the natural landscape by removing vegetation and exposing soil to wind and rain. These changes substantially increase the risk of flash floods and debris flow. Normally, grasses, shrubs and trees slow rainfall and improve soil absorption. Leaf litter further protects the soil from erosive rainfall.

So what’s the next step? Preparation before it rains helps to minimize and prevent potential danger. Nature’s back-to-back disasters can cause distress and uncertainty, that’s where knowledge is power and when new knowledge is applied, combined with action, our choices and decisions can re-direct the flow and deflect future disasters. Holding a positive mindset while trusting the process and each other we become victors instead of victims.

Let’s begin 2018 by watering new ideas with anticipation and appreciation. Drenching ourselves with possibilities in the rich soil of our lives will set the stage to help harness our direction. Planting seeds of hope for the landscape of our future insures deep roots of safety and security for all and generations to come.

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