Of emergencies and neighbors helping neighbors; preparedness fair October 25

Sutter County Supervisor Larry Munger (from left to right), Sutter County Administrative Analyst Sukh Purewal, and Sutter County Supervisor Mat Conant discuss the repairs underway at Oroville Dam with the Department of Water Resources Matt Murray, while overlooking the emergency spillway which nearly failed in February. Supervisors, levee district representatives, and City of Live Oak officials took a recent tour. Yuba City officials have also toured the site.

The explosive wildfire in the Yuba County foothills  that has destroyed 111 homes and claimed at least two lives as of Thursday morning is another reminder that emergencies can happen at anytime. The response by the community to the disaster is another reminder of how we take care of each other in times of need.


For the second time this year, a no-notice evacuation caused widespread panic and ripped people from their homes. In February, it was all of the valley floor as Sutter County and most of Yuba County was evacuated when it appeared the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam was within one hour of failing and sending a deadly wall of water down the Feather River. The result was the single largest evacuation in United States history for other than a hurricane.

Then beginning late at night on October 9, the wind-whipped fire that began north of Collins Lake and spread quickly into the communities of Loma Rica and Browns Valley resulted in emergency evacuations of more than 2,500 people. Emergency responders entered several homes to pull people to safety, and many evacuees have told harrowing stories of diving out of windows and getting out just ahead of the flames.

Sutter County Fire Chief John Shalowitz and interim Sutter County Emergency Manager Brenna Howell updated the Board of Supervisors Tuesday on the fire situation in Yuba County and across the state of California. Shalowitz and Howell have been assisting Yuba County emergency operators; Sutter County fire has dispatched strike teams to some of the fires.


It’s all quite terrifying and exhausting for those who were evacuated, and tragic for those who have lost family members, homes, cars, livestock, and their personal possessions in the fire. As first responders and emergency managers deal with the fire and arrange for shelter, residents and local businesses in Sutter County stepped up big time to help our neighbors from across the river, many of whom turn out to be our friends or family members. Residents and businesses responded to requests for donations of food, pet food, new clothes, toiletries and other items with amazing speed and grace. Everywhere you turned, people wanted to help in some way or other.

In addition to an evacuation center at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds in Yuba City for those individuals evacuated from Yuba County, the Sutter County Sheriff’s Posse Arena is an evacuation site for horses. The Loma Rica and Browns Valley area is well known as horse country.  

September was Emergency Preparedness Month across the United States. It is designed to encourage understanding of the need to be prepared for emergencies.


The week of October 21-28 is California Flood Awareness Week. Sutter County, in cooperation with other local governments, is participating by helping to create a Flood Aware, Flood Prepare special publication to be inserted in The Appeal-Democrat on the morning of Saturday, October 21, and by hosting a Flood Aware, Flood Prepare Fair from 4 p.m. -7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 25, at the Sutter County Veterans Building at 1425 Veterans Circle, Yuba City. In addition to emergency information from Sutter County and other local government agencies, the California Department of Water Resources will be on hand to update residents on the status of repairs to the spillways at Oroville Dam, and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency will provide an update on the emergency levee repairs at Yuba City. Watch for additional information in coming days.