Local community groups tend to highlight how they’re preparing for the emergencies that are more frequent in Sonoma County — namely, fires and floods. However, struck with a different kind of emergency with COVID-19, the county’s local Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies (COPE) and Map Your Neighborhood groups, as well as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), are leaning into the core of their preparedness measures and training.
“With COVID-19, then it was kind of like, ‘we need to mobilize,’” said Priscilla Abercombie, co-leader of the Fitch Mountain COPE program in Healdsburg.
“We know who the people are that are disabled; we know there are people that need help, so we need to mobilize,” she said.
One of the foundational components of neighborhood COPE groups is a database of neighborhood information that tends to include contact information, as well as special accommodations that folks may need in an emergency, or any other information that may denote that a person is part of a vulnerable population.
Abercrombie said that while the Fitch Mountain group has referenced its lists of neighborhood residents who may need help while sheltering in place and made phone calls to check in with them, she hasn’t seen an outpouring of people requesting help.
“I think it’s early enough in the epidemic where there’s not as much happening. I don’t think the other shoe has really dropped yet,” Abercombie said, noting that she thinks people still have a good amount of food in their house and haven’t reached the point where they need to start looking for groceries.
A month from now she expects things to be different.
The Fitch Mountain COPE group as well as The Cottages COPE group in Cloverdale, are both still trying to figure out what the role of COPE is when it comes to COVID-19.
“We’re making phone calls just to check in, but mostly we’re geared toward a wildfire or earthquake,” said Janet Horrall, the lead contact for COPE in the Cottages. “So far we haven’t had much input about how to help people with the coronavirus.”
The Fitch Mountain group has been sending out emails to its members that include information from local and regional government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Horrall said that she hopes to start something similar for her group.
“We don’t see that many people out and about in our neighborhood unless they’re
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