El Dorado County looking to improve disaster response | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado County looking to improve disaster response

Eric Jaramishian / Mountain Democrat

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — El Dorado County staff has had its hands full in recent years working on emergency preparedness, response and recovery when faced with disasters in addition to regular duties. 

The county will hire a consultant to find ways to meet increasing demands for services and communications amid calamities, which the county Board of Supervisors suggested could be improved during its Feb. 14 meeting. 

With what seems to be a trend of natural disasters hitting the county year after year, such as the Caldor and Mosquito fires and the series of storms that caused flooding and damage in the early days of 2023, District 4 Supervisor Lori Parlin recommended hiring a consultant to evaluate the structure of the county’s Office of Emergency Services and overall response and recovery efforts to disaster.

“We just seem to be in crisis mode every year,” Parlin said. “District 4 specifically has gotten hit pretty hard and I do hear from the public a lot on why we don’t do certain things … I think our constituents think we are in charge of everything but we don’t have a magic wand to fix everything.” 

Supervisors commented that a consultant would benefit the public in understanding each responding entity’s roles and responsibilities during disasters.

District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl said it is time to reassess how the county responds and collaborates in emergencies. 

“I’ve personally received inputs from (the California Office of Emergency Services) on things they believe El Dorado County could do better in terms of collaboration and discussion, so I would hope they would be included in whatever review we do in terms of viewing our interaction and response … and see if they have any recommendations on how that can become a better collaboration,” he noted. 

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to direct staff to hire a consultant, in collaboration with the Chief Administrative Office and Sheriff’s Office, within six months’ time.

District 5 Supervisor Brooke Laine pointed out that most county resources in charge of emergency response aren’t headquartered in the Tahoe Basin and suggested scenarios be considered if disasters were to happen there.

“Oftentimes we get so focused on the West Slope that we forget that there could be situations in our jurisdiction, but not where we are physically located,” Laine said. 

District 2 Supervisor George Turnboo added that while areas of response could be improved, including pre-deployment of resources during fire events, he also noted the Food Bank of El Dorado County’s efforts in opening an emergency resource center as moving in the right direction.

“That is going to be a big asset to our county, and other surrounding counties as well, when we have to tap into those resources,” Turnboo said.

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