Following the Jan. 10, 2010, devastating earthquake in Haiti, Francoise Frigola spent three days attempting to find information about the well-being of a friend’s relatives. This search led Frigola to realize that she had the technical expertise to establish an emergency Internet plan for Idyllwild.
Readers may or may not know that in case of an emergency all land lines and cell phones (assuming they are still working) will be shut off and assigned to rescue operations. So, how will friends and family members make sure that we are OK, and that the Hill is safe?
Ron Perry and Les Walker, Disaster Aid Station captains, and Frigola set up a website: www.idyllwildemergency.com and three separate Facebook pages: Idyllwild Emergency, MDP-Idyllwild, and MCFSC.org.
Even without phone lines and Internet connections, the MDP Idyllwild Internet Emergency committee, made up of Mary Morse, Susan Weisbart and Frigola, has taken on the responsibility of updating the website and Facebook pages during an emergency. This committee is under the auspices of MDP Communications Director Dorian Paul.
Thanks to a generous grant from Riverside 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s office and the County of Riverside, MDP will soon have a portable satellite with phone and Internet options in order to operate during any emergency. Plans are underway to devise a mutual cooperation program for sharing, that could include MDP sister agencies such as the newly formed Garner Valley Preparedness group, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council and others.
In the event of any emergency it may take a few hours to gather vital information to publish on these sites.
In the event of a fire on the Hill, or the surrounding area, which has the potential to cut off access to or from the Hill, the committee will keep communications current until we are ordered to evacuate.
In case of an earthquake, emergency information will be gathered from the nine Disaster Aid Stations located on the Hill. (Neighborhood DAS locations can be found at www.mdp-idyllwild.com/das.html.)
Those who are on the Hill at the time of an emergency need to check in at their neighborhood DAS. With permission, information collected by DAS volunteers will be used to update the website as often as necessary and practical.
Now what? Residents will want to make note (bookmark) the website and make sure that your friends and relatives do so as well. Residents will also want to “like” the Facebook pages so that they will receive automatic updates to these sites, thus being kept in the loop! Mountain Disaster Preparedness Idyllwild Internet Emergency committee will coordinate with sister agencies.