Castle Valley Comments
Sept. 13, 2012
by Ron Drake
Sep 13, 2012 | 808 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When my family moved to Castle Valley in April of 1978, Ken Johnson was already here and working on the basement of his home on Amber Lane. He and his family moved here the previous year, and like many of us, they were transplants looking for a simpler life away from the populous regions of southern California. And like others here at the time, money was scarce and the task of building a home and improving property was immense.

When I learned that Ken passed away early last Friday morning, mere minutes past his 83rd birthday, these and many other memories came flooding through my mind. I thought of the lovely home he built for his family and the hours of his own sweat labor he put into it. It was a combination of pride and mostly economics that we were forced to build our own homes without much outside labor except for some occasional volunteer help.

Years later, we spent many evenings on the back deck of Ken and Ruth’s home watching the shadows glide past Castle Rock and the other sandstone features that are so prominent from their vantage point. We admired the deer and other wildlife frolicking in the grassy meadow behind their house as the valley would become enveloped with darkness. I know that for Ken and Ruth, those evenings outside on the deck made all those hours of sweat labor worthwhile.

Ken’s work was in the building trades and he spoke with pride of the many large construction projects that were under his supervision during his career in Southern California. He served in the U.S. Navy, and volunteered his time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served on the Castle Valley Property Owner’s Association and the Grand County Council of the Aging. But it was those days on the mountain gathering firewood for others that showed his spirit of service to his fellow citizens. It wasn’t an easy task for a guy nearing 80 years of age to be toting logs across a rough terrain to a waiting trailer, but he carried on without murmur or complaint.

It will be difficult for his family to carry on without him, but they are confident that he has gone to a better place, free of the difficulties of life that he had to endure the past year or so. Difficulties that he endured with dignity and grace. I am personally losing a good friend, and we are all losing another of our latter-day pioneer citizens.


September is National Preparedness Month and the citizens of the community of Castle Valley are probably pretty prepared for disasters. But there is always room for improvement. Our disasters here in the valley will most likely include floods, wildfires, strong winds, landslides, and even blackouts. The valley already has a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in place and they meet monthly to prepare to give assistance during emergencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests we be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved. In this column, I would like to focus on building a 72-hour kit. FEMA says a 72-hour kit is simply a collection of basic household items your household might need in the event of an emergency.

Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate in a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help within hours, but it might take days.

Additionally, basic services like electricity, water and telephone may be cut off for days or even a week or longer. Your 72-hour kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages. These might include water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days; food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; a battery-powered or hand-crank radio; a NOAA weather radio. A flashlight and extra batteries, a first-aid kit and a whistle to signal for help are also advisable.

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicle. At home, keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Other items should be kept in your vehicle, in case you are stranded there. Those items might include jumper cables, a flashlight and batteries, food items containing protein, such as nuts and energy bars, a first aid kit, warm clothes, blankets or sleeping bags and a shovel. We will not know when an emergency will occur, but a 72-hour kit will give us the satisfaction of knowing we will be better prepared when it does happen.

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