Friday, June 19, 2009

L.A. County Alert System

This is different than the alert system THe Meadows FireSafe Council will introduce later this year. All of us should have received a test message from the County about a month ago. Here's the full press released yesterday. Long, but good info:

County Implements Mass Alert SystemLos Angeles County officials today announced the implementation of an emergency mass notification system to alert residents and businesses by phone, text, and e-mail of emergencies in their area.

Called Alert LA County, the system will allow the Sheriff’s Emergency Communications Center to activate local and regional alerts by drawing the boundaries of the area to be notified on a computer map. Recorded and written alerts will provide information on the nature of the emergency and necessary actions, such as evacuations. The system is so precise it will allow the exclusion of a single home, useful in situations involving hostages or crimes in progress. The County’s 7.1 million land-line phone numbers are programmed into the mass notification system, but the public must register Voice over IP lines, cell phones and e-mail addresses. Registration of this information can be done on the County’s website. Each telephone number and e-mail can be associated with only one street address.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe said the system was tested in areas of each of the five supervisorial districts on May 18, and the results were impressive. Tests were conducted in South Whittier (First District), Ladera Heights (Second), Topanga Canyon (Third), a portion of Lakewood (Fourth), and The Meadows and Chaney Trail (Fifth).

The test included approximately 15,000 phone numbers, and a review was conducted to determine the number of calls that were completed and the disposition of each call, whether there was a live answer, answering machine, or busy. The test results were validated by calling a small sampling of those receiving the calls and getting their feedback. If a call is picked up by an answering machine when an alert is being issued, a recorded message will be left. If the number is busy or does not answer, the number will be redialed twice. The system has the ability to detect and communicate with telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTY/TDD).

The Alert LA County system project, approved by the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 17 at a $1.97 million cost over five years, was developed by the Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department, Chief Information Office, and Chief Executive Office’s Office of Emergency Management. The cost includes the purchase of the 911 data from the local telephone companies.

Sheriff Lee Baca cautioned that while the notification system is considered effective and efficient, people should not wait for or rely exclusively on a call for evacuation directives if they believe they are in danger.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said similar systems have worked well in other areas, including in San Diego County where more than 500,000 people were evacuated during the 2007 wildfires. “This alert system will be particularly valuable in areas of my district in the Santa Monica Mountains that are vulnerable to fast-moving fires during high-risk weather conditions,” he said, noting that in November 2007 a wildland fire threatened more than 2,000 homes and destroyed or damaged 98 dwellings and 45 outbuildings in Corral Canyon. The County presently has no consistent way to contact residents and businesses in case of regional or local emergencies, so the new system will assist in making the communities safer, said Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas.

The notification system, said Supervisor Gloria Molina, will improve the County’s ability to communicate faster, better and more reliably, providing the ability to target messages and follow-up information to residents in affected areas, and reduce the potential for miscommunication by distributing accurate and consistent messages. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said the new system will improve public safety for all residents and those in the more rural areas of the County in case of regional or local emergencies. Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said wildfires have been increasingly threatening in the County, and the fire season is now a year-round reality instead of just several months, so he welcomes implementation of Alert LA County. “It will give us one more tool to keep the public safe,” he said.John Fernandes, director of the Office of Emergency Management, stressed that the new alert system is a component of the overall emergency notification plan and is not meant to replace existing systems. The County will coordinate its efforts with cities, and those having their own systems may continue issuing alerts in their area independent of the County. Alert LA County uses geographic information system maps and polygons that correlate geo-coded information into telephone numbers and addresses.

Acting Chief Information Officer Richard Sanchez said the land-line numbers will be refreshed on a monthly basis to ensure accuracy and numbers registered on the website will be added to the database on a nightly basis.

Knabe said the County will evaluate the notification system in four years to determine its value and usefulness and whether it should be continued.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MFSC Assessments to be Scheduled

The Meadows FireSafe Council will make phone calls and send emails to all participating in this year's assessments tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.

The dates of the assessments will be June 29, June 30, July 1 and July 2. We have approximately 52 residents participating this year. Calls and emails will be made to these residents to schedule the assessments on those dates.

Brush clearance continues on land above Risinghill, Canyon Crest and El Prieto with much success. Please check it out. It's making our neighborhood more fire-safe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Humboldt Lilies

The Humboldt Lilies are blooming. The photo attached was taken in El Prieto Canyon, near the picnic tables.

Thanks to Ray for the pic.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cheetah Presentation

Our resident Meadows wildlife expert, Mary Ellen Schoeman, is giving a presentation on her volunteer work with cheetahs in South Africa on Monday, June 15, 7:30 p.m. at Distant Lands Bookstore in Pasadena.

The bookstore is at 56 S. Raymond Ave. The presentation is free but reservations are recommended (not required!). She'd love for her fellow Meadows residents to come!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bear on Patio Again!

A friend was sitting on my patio last Saturday at 5:00 p.m. when the very large bear came from behind my house. ( I live on El Priet Rd.) It was within 15 feet of her. She was able to slowly walk away and get to safety in my house. She saw it sniffing the air as if it were tracking something.

I've been emailing a ranger in Yellowstone who has a great web site about bears and safety: His response to my email follows. One point he makes is that the bear is probably tracking a food source. I don't keep any food, bird seed, BBQ, etc. outside my house. Also, my garbage cans are down near the garage. I don't put any food items in them until the morning of trash day.

Whatever we can all do to deter the bear would be advisable. It's getting too close for my comfort. Here's his response to my asking what I could do to deter the bear:

"The bear must be making its rounds in the neighborhood. There must be something nearby that is attracting the bear if there are no potential food items in your yard. I don't think placing ammonia in an empty can will prevent the bear from returning. Someone near you is either feeding the bear, or has some sort of food item out that is attracting the bear. Find that location and food item and remove it and the bear will move on. The reason the bear is smelling or appears to be tracking something is just the way bears try and locate food. It may not actually be smelling anything but just trying to see what is out there. Coming up onto your patio is not a good sign. This bear, I am betting, has gotten dog or cat food that was left out on other porches in the area and has learned that this is an easy food source.

"I would call you local Fish and Game Dept and let them know of the situation as well. They may need to fire a few rubber bullets or cracker shells to encourage it to move on."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Meadows Resident Running for Town Council

Altadena Town Council will hold its elections this Saturday, June 6. Meadows resident and former Town Councilperson, Dennis Bridwell, is running unopposed for our census tract. Please support him at the election booth this Saturday.