Editorial: Evacuations should teach us, don’t wait for an emergency to get ready


When it came to the Oroville Dam spillway disaster last year, some of the most enduring images were of cars bumper to bumper on Olive Highway or Highway 70, trying to escape.

That formed the basis for one of the major criticisms of the evacuation — should the spillway have failed, those stuck on Highway 70 and many other low-lying roads would have been washed away.

Those images of backed-up cars had the county scrambling over how to get people to safety. We don’t know if there were evacuation routes already set up, but we’d never heard of them. Nor had most Butte County residents.

It made sense to map the best way out of any town in Butte County and make sure residents knew where they should go.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea and other county and city officials put together definitive evacuation routes last year. Those maps coupled with an emergency alert system called CodeRED ensure residents can flee to safety. CodeRED notifications can be sent via phone or email.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, only 20,000 of roughly 226,000 residents have signed up.

Local officials worked hard to get this system in place and put routes in for our safety. It’s crazy to think most of us — more than 200,000 residents — have put it off or ignored it.

Here’s a reminder that signing up for the alert is an easy safeguard for you and your loved ones.

It doesn’t take much — five minutes is the estimate. Hate computers? Various county resources can help you do it. Start at the county’s website buttecounty.net/massnotification or by calling the Butte County Help Central office at 2-1-1.

Evacuation routes for the south county area are posted on the county’s website at www.buttecounty.net/oem. If you don’t have a vehicle or a way to get out, there’s a way to let officials know you’ll need help if there’s no family around.

As long as we’re talking about emergencies and evacuations, don’t forget to take into account pets and animals. Make plans including transportation and cages, food and medicine.

We’re in a lull right now, but we know emergencies from flooding to wildfires are right around the corner.

We have a thoughtful and thorough disaster response system, so let’s use it.

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