Frequently Asked Questions
NRG = Neighborhood Response Group.
Mill Valley is at very high risk from natural disasters, such as wildfires, earthquakes and floods. The NRG program is a grassroots volunteer-driven initiative designed to assist the residents of Mill Valley to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters by encouraging a neighbors-helping-neighbors approach and by providing resources, guidance, training and conducting periodic disaster drills.
If we do experience a large-scale emergency/disaster, you may be on your own from 5-7 days. Your Block Captain may check on you to make sure you and your family are safe. One of the most important benefits of becoming an NRG is to get to know each other as neighbors, as you can work together to help each other. Getting to know our neighbors provides Block Captains with information on who might need help and who is able to provide help in case of a disaster or emergency.
We can help each other by knowing:
- Who in your neighborhood is medically trained and can help if anyone is injured in an earthquake or who has had carpentry/electrical /plumber training, as they can turn your gas back on if you had a gas leak and turned it off.
- Who has a chain saw and can help to clear your street if a tree has fallen
- And especially which neighbors might need help that you can reach out to.
Do I need special skills to be a Block Captain?
Block Captains (BCs) are the heart of this program and are a crucial link between the NRG and the individual residents of Mill Valley. The role requires a responsible person with the time and interest to work as part of an emergency response team. Being at home during the day is not a pre-requisite and there are no special skills required. A Block Captain should have a reliable phone messaging system, access to emails, be highly responsible and committed to assisting the residents in their neighborhood.
Becoming a BC can be a very rewarding experience, as you visit and get to know your neighbors. BCs serve the important function of providing preparedness information and keeping people informed about emergency incidents that affect the community.
Primary duties include:
- Be responsible for 10-20 homes in their cluster and ideally work with a Co-Captain or Assistant Block Captain.
- Collect basic contact information from the residents in their block of homes and keep a roster of residents in their area.
- Serve as the contact person for those series of homes to distribute timely information re: safety issues within their neighborhood
- Participate in emergency drills 2x/year, on Time Change days in March and November, checking on neighbors within their block and reporting any scripted injuries/damage to NRG Command Post
- Assist in recovery efforts based on information from City of Mill Valley
CERT members will be formed into teams, which will be embedded within the NRG they reside in. In the event of a disaster, CERTs will only self-activate in a large-scale earthquake. They will work with Block Captains to provide assistance with basic first aid, light search & rescue and fire suppression. Each CERT team will have a Team Leader and report to the NRG Command Post. In any other emergency/disaster, CERTs will need to be activated by the local fire department. If a resident is both a CERT member and a Block Captain, they should perform their BC role first, only assuming their CERT role afterwards, if they are still needed.
Even a small group of neighbors can get started in becoming an NRG ‘cluster’ by identifying their neighborhood and the boundaries of that neighborhood. Having a group of neighbor leaders who can plan a neighborhood meeting to discuss planning and sharing the basic information for emergency preparedness are key elements in the initial planning. The City of Mill Valley will also have an NRG Advisory Council who can guide your neighborhood through the process.
The National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity.
A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.
The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above.
During heightened fire danger, CAL FIRE will place additional firefighters on duty, staff more fire engines and keep more equipment on 24 hours a day to be able to respond to any new fires. CAL FIRE urges Californians to be extremely cautious, especially during periods of high fire danger. It's important that all residents and visitors take steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire.
More information can be found HERE.