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Published August 19th, 2020
Town's Virtual Evacuation Drill a success
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The Moraga Police Department and Moraga-Orinda Fire District held a town-wide virtual evacuation drill beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 1. Its purpose was designed to refine the Community Warning System which will be used in the event of an actual alert and to enhance coordination between both organizations.
Residents were informed, over a month in advance through the town's website and emails, of the upcoming drill and were encouraged to register with CWS. On the day of the event, a simulated wildfire scenario was created to mimic the spread of a fire while alerting residents through the CWS in a time-phased evacuation notification.
According to Moraga Police Chief Jon King, over 1,800 registrants signed up with CWS in preparation for the drill. That in itself was quite an achievement. "When we do a virtual evacuation, we are accomplishing a number of things in a short period of time, without a tremendous amount of resources," explained King. "For example, the evacuation drill we did last year involving the Moraga Country Club neighborhood involved over 75 people. A virtual evacuation drill allowed us to test the notification system, provide information to all town residents, encouraged everyone to sign up for CWS and think about and work on their own preparations, and provided training to fire and police personnel about how we would respond to such an incident."
The virtual "fire" started in the area south of Moraga Road and Sky Hi near the Moraga/Lafayette border. The CWS notifications were sent out with the fire and police taking action based on the fire's progress. Alerts were sent out to those registered residents according to the fire's direction, and until all of the town's 23 zones were evacuated in a roll-out fashion.
There were some glitches to the CWS notifications in that residents who registered phone numbers attached to an internet provider never received their alert. Registrants who did not receive an alert to this type of line or any of their registered phone numbers are encouraged to call CWS (925) 313-9622, as they are currently in the process of overcoming the issue. King stated, "This is one of the reasons that we ask people, when they are evacuating, to knock on the doors of houses on either side of them to ensure their neighbors also received the alert."
After the virtual evacuation, participants were emailed a survey to fill out in order to help MOFD and MPD gain valuable insight as to how residents may react to an actual evacuation. Both departments are in the process of compiling the survey data along with statistics from CWS.
"Emergency preparedness is very important for all Lamorinda residents," King said. "Both the MPD and the MOFD are dedicated to working with our community to prepare for emergencies. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Virtual Evacuation Drill and encourage people to continue their planning and preparedness efforts in their homes and neighborhoods. Lamorinda CERT (www.lamorindacert.org) offers free training and has emergency supplies for sale and is an excellent resource. Everyone should ensure they are registered with the Community Warning System (www.cwsalerts.com) so they receive emergency notifications as this is the system that will be used in a real emergency."

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