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Central Chapter Provides Complimentary Membership as Town of Paradise Recovers from Camp Fire

Monday, February 25, 2019  
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From the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to the Tubbs Fire in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties, MISAC members have recently found themselves in the middle of several wildfire response and recovery efforts. With first-hand experience of the challenges municipalities face during destructive wildfires, MISAC members were quick to stretch a helping hand to Josh Marquis, former Town of Paradise information technology (IT) manager, during Butte County’s Camp Fire, California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire to date.

MISAC’s Central Chapter Officers Tim Ranstrom (El Dorado Irrigation District), Hong Sae (City of Roseville) and Jason Bowling (City of Tulare) promptly coordinated complimentary membership when they learned that Marquis was Paradise’s only IT personnel during the Camp Fire and did not find him in MISAC’s member database. The Chapter offered courtesy membership to Marquis to grant him access to the listerv and help him find opportunities and resources in the days following the fire.

“During the Camp Fire, I assisted with evacuation and coordination of communications and general staff support at the Town’s emergency operations center,” said Josh Marquis, former Town of Paradise IT manager and current senior IS analyst for the City of Chico. “Right after the fire, the Town’s initial push was to reestablish core services. We needed to set up new equipment, which had been destroyed in the fire. This entailed a lot of coordination with vendors to order and install new equipment.”

Following the Camp Fire, Marquis’ primary ongoing responsibilities were to assist with service restoration. He acted as a liaison between the Town and providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast in order to restore services at temporary Town facilities and the community at large. Marquis found that ongoing communication challenges and vendor hurdles became issues that stood in the way of the Town’s recovery. Before the fire, it would have taken a few days for providers to restore services. After the Camp Fire, equipment was damaged so badly that they projected weeks, and potentially months, to restore services, if they can be restored at all.  

“There were members on the MISAC listerv who offered help and pointed me towards vendors following the Camp Fire,” continued Marquis. “The Town ended up using a vendor who I found through the listerv. This was my first experience with MISAC.”  

Aside from MISAC, Marquis received assistance from several agencies and local governments nearby. He found it particularly beneficial to learn from professionals with experience using products that he looked to in the Town’s recovery. Instead of delaying Paradise’s recuperation by learning new tools, Marquis was able to push past the learning curve thanks to assistance from local agencies. This support positioned him to drive the Town’s recovery efforts forward faster than initially anticipated.

“It is helpful not to have to reinvent the wheel during challenging times. Most natural disasters have common threads. There are local governments and agencies who have already experienced challenges with specific disasters, and they know what is necessary to prepare and what is necessary during and after the event. Shared knowledge and resources are really important,” Marquis commented.

Marquis plans to start meeting with leaders from other local governments and agencies to share knowledge of software and identify redundancies in software usage among each agency.

“We want to educate each other so we are aware of each other’s resources prior to natural disasters and challenging times. With this knowledge, we are aware sooner rather than later of the resources that we’re able to offer each other. A little bit of familiarity can shave off a lot of wasted time,” said Marquis.

Recovery efforts for communities affected by the Camp Fire are ongoing. MISAC encourages members affected or in a position to support those affected by the fires to visit to view and offer resources.

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