Are you really prepared for this?
For the past few years, I have written an annual letter to the editor in the hopes that it will inspire Park Record readers to prepare for a possible wildfire.
In 2008, I lost my house in the Santa Barbara Tea Fire. My older son and our three pets were home at the time and had an hour to pack our SUV. I pulled valuables and photographs, and my 13-year-old son packed while our Jack Russell puppy waited in a crate. We didn’t know where our two cats were hiding. When we left the house, we had Einstein with us, but Midnight was nowhere to be found. The next morning, we learned our home of 16 years was one of 210 homes that burned to the ground in less than 24 hours. Four days after the fire, we were sifting through the ashes when Midnight came sauntering back to us.
From 2008 to 2012, we moved eight times for a variety of reasons, but it became clear that as a single woman, I was not going to be able to rebuild or buy a home again in the city where I had lived for 20 years. Coincidentally, I was visiting a friend in July 2012 who had invited me to Park City. The morning after I arrived, I joined her for a long run along the Mid Mountain Trail. The final proceeds from my homeowners insurance had finally been released and paid four years after the fire. I realized that Park City could possibly be my new home. Within three days, I made my first offer and finally purchased a home in Pinebrook in the fall of 2012. I bought in lower Pinebrook, where I thought I would feel safe from wildfires and never imagined I would have to think about flooding.
My boys, our Jack Russell, and two cats moved to Park City full-time exactly 10 years ago. This has been the perfect home until recent years when my fear takes over and I wonder if I will ever feel safe again.
A few years ago, I was driving home from a research trip and a half marathon in Beaver, Utah, when I first saw the smoke of the Parleys Canyon Fire covering Heber Valley. My boys called me and said it looked like we might need to evacuate. I immediately went into action mode and started suggesting what to pack. As soon as I pulled into our driveway, a sheriff was at our door telling us the county had issued a mandatory evacuation. Driveways were spray-painted to indicate those that were willing to adhere to the evacuations and those that chose to stay home. As I write this a few days before Mother’s Day, I read the news about the wildfire along the Virgin River in St. George that nearly caused evacuations to over 100 homes. Fire season will be upon us within weeks.
We have had a rough winter in Park City. Just as I have had to prepare for wildfires, this year, I bought flood insurance, a sump pump, a water detector, and sandbags. One morning our basement flooded. The pipe to release the sump pump was blocked by snow and had backed up into our finished basement. New carpeting is arriving tomorrow. I have a bid for new gutters to divert water away from the house in the future as well as to repair the multiple gutters destroyed by ice dams. I had snow removed from my roof twice this season. Will I ever catch my breath? I contemplate where I might feel safe. These days there seem to be very few choices.
Please take time to prepare. Look over your homeowners insurance policies. How can you prepare to evacuate inside and outside? Make sure you sign up for Park City and Summit County Emergency alerts. For more information, plan to stop by the Pinebrook Wildfire Community Preparedness Day in the Pinebrook Park on May 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, please contact me at email@example.com.
My name is Jordan Williams. I am 14 years old, and I am an athlete. I love most sports, and I play many recreationally. Since I was 4, I have figure skated, ski raced, snowboarded, and now play hockey.
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