Jessica Cejnar / Monday, March 23 @ 2:36 p.m. / Business, Emergencies, Local Government

DN Emergency Officials Mobilize Volunteer Groups, Create Business Resiliency Group to Combat Pandemic Hardship

A customer goes through the check out at Safeway in the middle of orders to social distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Jessica Cejnar

Though COVID-19 has yet to set foot in Del Norte County, emergency officials are mobilizing its volunteer disaster preparedness teams and are fielding calls for protective masks and other resources from other local agencies and entities.

The county’s Emergency Operations Center has also established a resiliency group aimed at helping local businesses weather the closures and other challenges the pandemic has wrought, County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Jay Sarina told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Monday.

The Economic Resiliency Group consist of county and city staff, the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce, financing and banking representatives, the Small Business Development Center and local employment agencies, according to a Crescent City news release.

The team is tasked with providing updates and resources and will be communicating with federal, state and local business representatives to “support our local industries,” according to the news release.

Local businesses are urged to join a list-serve by emailing to keep updated, according to the announcement.

“We will be reaching out to businesses within the next week to provide information, share resources and gather data in order to help our community navigate these extraordinary times,” the announcement from the city states. “It is also vital that we all stay current on what equipment and supplies we have locally and (have) a better understanding of what’s needed.”

Ahead of a video news conference Monday, Sarina told the Outpost that Del Norte’s Emergency Operations Center is operating at its second-highest level. The local Community Emergency Response and Disaster Animal Response teams have mobilized as have other volunteers, he said.

The county’s Office of Emergency Services has received two requests for resources from agencies and entities in the county, with personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves being high on the list.

“But it’s high on the list for everybody in the entire nation,” Sarina said, adding that Del Norte OES is working on obtaining more of those resources.

“It’s a little different type of an emergency, but we have a pretty good idea of what we need here and what people need and we’re trying our best to get those resources,” he said.

Though some emergency sections that have been activated — law enforcement, emergency medical services and fire — are obvious, Sarina said nearly every branch under the county’s jurisdiction is essential. Many county departments, especially the Department of Health and Human Services, serves the community’s most vulnerable population, he said.

During the video conference, Sarina said people can expect to hear updates from himself and City Manager Eric Wier. Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore; Gerry Hemmingsen, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Police Chief Richard Griffin and Sheriff Erik Apperson may also speak during the conference, Sarina said.

“As things come up we’ll be doing this on a fairly regular basis,” he said. “Right now we’ve planned it out as we’re going to go about every other day. If conditions change, we’ll possibly go sooner than that.”

Meanwhile, the Del Norte Board of Supervisors will hold its regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Sarina said the county’s information technology department is planning on a virtual meeting similar to the Board’s emergency meeting Friday and last week’s City Council meeting.

Some supervisors may participate in the meeting remotely, he said. There will be limited staff in the board chambers, including the clerk of the board, county counsel and Sarina. The public can pose questions in advance of the meeting by clicking here. To participate via Zoom, click here


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