Are You Prepared to Evacuate at a Moment’s Notice?

On Saturday, May 21, residents of the Warner Canyon section of Mill Valley – home of the Mill Valley Golf Course and abutted by the Camino Alto Open Space Preserve to the east – will get a chance to answer that question as the City of Mill Valley conducts its annual emergency evacuation drill there.

The evacuation drill, a longstanding local event that has helped propel Mill Valley’s emergency preparedness efforts to widespread acclaim, helps first responders assess the issues that may arise if such an evacuation became necessary due to a disaster, such as an earthquake or a wildland fire on Mount Tamalpais.

Mill Valley firefighters experienced first-hand the devastation and value of a prepared community from their deployment to the Valley Fire in Lake County last September, which destroyed nearly 2,000 structures and forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents. 

“We were struck by how similar the Lake County topography was to Mill Valley – lots of steep, wooded canyons and narrow roads,” Battalion Chief Mike St. John said. “Even with the rains we received over the winter, local vegetation is becoming tinder-dry. Plus, the amount of fire fuel on the mountain has tripled from what it was in 1929, when we experienced the last catastrophic wildland fire. This is why it is so important for us to prepare the community for the potential for a wildland fire.”

Warner Canyon residents in this neighborhood have received instructions on how to participate. At 9am on May 21, emergency sirens will activate, alerting residents to evacuate to the designated check-in location at the parking lot of Park School. A Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) message will be sent to all who have signed up for this valuable service. Once at the check-in, participants will be asked to complete an evacuation survey form. 

Emergency information and demonstrations will be provided by our community emergency partners, FIREsafe Marin, PG&E, the Red Cross, Marin Humane Society, Whistlestop Wheels, Marin Municipal Medical Corps and the Mill Valley Emergency Preparedness Commission. 

The City of Mill Valley’s Municipal Service Tax (MST) funds services essential for public safety including the creation and maintenance of our network of evacuation routes, fuel reduction along our streets, fuel breaks along Open Space, and a designated parking program that maintains 11’ road clearance for emergency responders to access our community. 

First adopted by voters in 1987, the MST was renewed in 1997 and 2006 and generates $1.2 million in revenue annually. This local funding tool will expire in June of 2018.

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