Orinda holds virtual wildfire evacuation exercise to help residents prepare

The coronavirus pandemic makes everything look a little different this year, including preparing for a wildfire.

The Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District and the Orinda Police Department, with the help of community volunteers, organized a virtual evacuation exercise Saturday.

“I think people just going through the motions enables them to figure out where they need to improve on their evacuation plan” said volunteer Rob Schroeder.

The entire city of Orinda was included in the simulated wildfire scenario so people could get ready for an emergency while officials tested coordination and information sharing.

At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, an alert went out Orinda residents over the Contra Costa County Community Warning System but because of coronavirus people didn’t actually leave their homes.

Schroeder said were some issues, “We had some residents who had difficulty in getting some texts,” but officials say that’s the point of the exercise, to iron out problems and be better prepared for a real emergency.

“We’ve already identified three or four things just in talking through the exercise this morning that we want to change with our evacuation protocol,” said Dennis Rein, spokesperson with the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District.

From traffic control to communicating where resources should go, fire and police officials said they will make the changes and be ready for what’s to come.

The alerts only went out to those who were signed up for the Community Warning System. To register, head to https://cwsalerts.com/.