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Fires and floods: getting ready 

After a chaotic response to the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire that exposed breakdowns in communications, logistics and emergency public information, the city is hoping to be better prepared this fire season. It's spent the last two years working to prevent, and improve its response to, fires and floods, officials say.

Two evacuation drills have been held: one in Upper Skyway in May 2013 and another in Upper Broadmoor Bluffs in October 2013, says city spokeswoman Kim Melchor. Police, firefighters and the Office of Emergency Management helped residents develop evacuation plans, identify routes, evacuate pets, and understand notification protocols. During the Waldo fire, residents weren't clear on the meaning of "pre-evacuation," which means to prepare to leave on a moment's notice.

Evacuation drills also will be held this fall in Pulpit Rock, Erindale and University Park, Emergency Operations director Bret Waters says via email. "The focus of the drills has been, and will continue to be, neighborhoods that are in the Wildland Urban Interface," he writes.

The city has also trained thousands of residents on mitigation and preparedness for flash flooding, and held 50 trainings attended by more than 1,500 participants from the region, including nonprofit groups and the military. In March, it hosted a four-day joint public information course sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; about 120 public information officers and other officials participated, Melchor says.

The city also has taken part in a dozen incident command system training events to better understand the organization of command, operations, planning, logistics and finance during a multi-agency event. Police, fire, streets and utilities personnel have updated procedures for flood season, and more first responder training will be held in May. In addition, a wildfire preparedness meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on April 24 at Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 Cresta Road.

In the meantime, learn what you can do at springsgov.com/emergencypreparedness.

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