Clearing the Way in California

Will Chiaffino

A Greyshirt reflects on how local volunteers stepped in when Santa Ana winds knocked down trees and took out power.

When you become a Greyshirt, you learn about the importance of preparedness in disaster response. To have that “Go Bag” ready to get out there, kick ass, and serve. Most ops allow Greyshirts advanced planning, notification, and preparation. Operation Steel Magnolia came together overnight.

When strong Santa Ana winds blew through San Bernardino County in January, they left several cities dealing with toppled and broken trees to resolve and clean up. An estimated 200-plus trees fell in Upland, where the city and surrounds experienced massive power cuts. Vehicle lanes and driveways were blocked, popular walking trails littered, and local clean-up crews were left overwhelmed in their efforts to respond. 

Team Rubicon was called to provide sawyer teams to assist with clearing trees and clear ingress and egress routes which would allow SoCalEdison to start restoring power. Overnight, all components within Team Rubicon that create disaster response operations went into full swing. Greyshirts interrupted their evenings to ensure that Team Rubicon could answer the call, even if the op would last only one day. 

And, answer the call they did.

It was an amazing effort by planners, organizers, surveyors, staffers, general responders and, of course, SAWYERS! The preparedness by all to establish a response, even to this “simple” disaster, is exactly what Team Rubicon prides itself on. All had their “Go Bags” ready, no matter their role. Previous assistance by Greyshirts in this community gave them the confidence to call on Team Rubicon once again. Well done fellow Greyshirts…stay ready for the next one!

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