QUESTA, N.M. — The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with other local and federal agencies, has launched a wildfire-preparedness campaign called “Wildfire Preparedness is Year-’Round.” The goal of the campaign is to improve residents’ emergency preparedness.
Wildfire risk is not new to the people in northern Taos County. In May 1996, the residents of Questa grappled with the potential of losing their homes, land, and town as the Hondo fire raged down the mountain, forcing people to evacuate to the nearest shelter for safety. While this fire never reached the Village of Questa, it burned over 10,000 acres and destroyed more than 24 homes in less than 24 hours. This incident is etched into the memories of many Questeños, underscoring the importance of taking small, meaningful steps to prepare for emergencies and disasters.
This month’s campaign is meant to teach the public about the importance of “Go Bags.” Go Bags are an essential step toward preparing your family for an emergency or disaster. According to the U.S. Forest Service, some important items to include in your Go Bag include a change of clothes and undergarments, cash in small bills, and copies of important documents. Emergency Go-Bags should include things that you and your family need for the next 36-48 hours if you’re displaced. To download a checklist to ensure you have everything you might need, visit https://tinyurl.com/TaosEmergencyChecklist.
Communication during an emergency or disaster is another crucial part of preparedness. Rural communities are at an elevated risk as the distance between towns can cause a delay for fire personnel to respond in a timely manner. Additionally, rural and low-density areas are vulnerable because they are located in high vegetation areas where fire can spread rapidly. For this reason, the Taos County Office of Emergency Management has created an opt-in system for residents to be able to receive emergency notifications directly on their cell phones that inform them of imminent danger and/or of evacuation orders. To sign up to receive these alerts, visit http://onelink.to/alertme.
While signing up for Emergency Alerts will increase your emergency preparedness, it’s also equally important to grow your social media community. Follow local news and radio stations to get the latest information about potential immediate breaking news which could impact you. The Questa Del Rio News can be found on Facebook.com/QuestaNews, Twitter at @QuestaNews and on Instagram at #QuestaDelRioNews.