ONLINE EVENT: Organizing Your Neighborhood for Wildfire Preparedness with COPE

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Hear how one community in the Wildland Urban Interface started organizing residents to prepare for disaster, and a few years later has built on that foundation to advocate, organize and train many more groups across Northern Sonoma County.

This session was recorded.

Access the recording and more of our monthly session videos on our YouTube channel.

Map of Northern Sonoma County with COPE groups marked

For this meeting we welcome Priscilla Abercrombie, the Board Chair of COPE Northern Sonoma County, who will share with us how she and her neighbors got started, and what steps to take if you are interested in doing this where you live.

Northern Sonoma County is no stranger to emergency. After nearby Lake County experienced the tragic Valley fire in 2015, not far away soon after, the residents of Fitch Mountain realized they should work together to be prepared in case their area was affected by wildfire. Fitch Mountain is an area located in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), an area at high risk for wildfire strikes. Neighbors were concerned that their environment had poor emergency access and multiple barriers to evacuation.

They had read about the Valley Fire in Lake County, and realized that it was neighbor helping neighbor that saved lives.

After 2016, more COPE communities began to form and in the Fall of 2018, they convened a leadership group which included fire officials, local government officials and nonprofits that meet monthly to share information and work on readiness. They started small and local, adopting a program model called COPE, or Citizens (now Communities) Organized to Prepare for Emergencies, and prioritized helping everyone, including those most vulnerable neighbors like senior citizens, disabled and non-English speaking residents.

The adaptable COPE model is endorsed by fire departments, law enforcement, and county government and enables residents to be self-reliant when our first responders are busy elsewhere in times of disaster. Over 4 the years the initiative has grown, and is now recognized a California Fire Safe Council. The group provides monthly Info Sessions for 1-on-1 assistance to emerging COPE Leaders, and they advocate for their communities by influencing policy, bureaucratic processes and the allocation of resources for emergency preparedness.

About Our Guest

woman seated at a table smiling with a painting of a cityscape in the backgroundPriscilla Abercrombie, lives in the WUI in Northern Sonoma County. and is one of the founders and the Board Chair of COPE (Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies) Northern Sonoma County. 

Her professional background: Abercrombie has master’s degree and doctorate in nursing from UCSF, and completed a 2 year fellowship in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona, Tucson, with certifications in Integrative Health Coaching and Integrative Imagery. She is a nationally board certified health and wellness coach. and provided gynecologic care for over 30 years, conducted research, published articles, and lectured nationally on women's health. She has a private coaching practice called Women’s Health & Healing. She has served as Board President of IM4US (Integrative Medicine for the Underserved).

This event is organized by the After the Fire USA Community to Community Program and will be recorded for later viewing on our After the Fire USA YouTube channel Community to Community playlist