Castle Valley Comments: March 5, 2020

Ron Drake

There has been a lot of attention in the media lately about the outbreak of the coronavirus. As of this week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) consider the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a very serious public health threat.

However, based on current information, the CDC has stated that the immediate health risk from COVID-19 to the general American public is considered low at this time. Nevertheless, the CDCV is taking proactive preparedness steps and issued interim guidance for healthcare providers on infection control and prevention for COVID-19.

Even though the potential is serious it doesn’t compare to the 1918 influenza pandemic where between 50 and 100 million people died worldwide and the disease, according to multiple Internet sources, affected one-fifth of the world population.

Over the last decade or so there has been a new, exotic and rare disease outbreak every few years for which there is no known cure, in addition to the multiple thousands of people who will die from the common flu in any given year.

On a different but related subject locally, the Town of Castle Valley is currently in the process of updating our Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan, which was first developed five years ago, is a localized plan that details the several natural and manmade hazards that are specific to the Castle Valley area. This plan fulfills the requirements set forth by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. The DMA-2000 requires a hazard mitigation plan in order to be eligible for mitigation grants made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The hazards that have been identified in our area include fire, flood, severe weather, communication and power outages, rock fall, drought, water contamination, and earthquake. The town is also engaged in identifying evacuation routes for each neighborhood in the Town of Castle Valley.

What this all boils down to is that, as residents, we need to do our part in being prepared. We live in a pretty safe area but we should be ready for whatever comes our way by having a 72-hour kit and a food storage for longer periods of time. If this current situation with the COVID-19 turned into a pandemic situation and we were required to shelter in place for several weeks, I’m wondering how many of us could last that long with what we have on hand in our cupboards.

In other situations we might also be required to evacuate, in which case we need to have a plan. We need to know how to get out of the valley and we should take a supply of food and water with us. The lower end of Shafer Lane has been dedicated as an escape route during emergencies if the normal way out of the valley is blocked.

According to “Be Ready Utah,” the state’s official emergency preparedness campaign, which is managed by the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management, every household should have a basic emergency supply kit. They should include one gallon of water per day per person for at least three days. Also a three-day supply of non-perishable food, battery-powered or hand crank radio, flashlight and extra batteries, first-aid kit, moist towelettes, a can opener and a host of other supplies depending on your needs.

A disaster is described by FEMA as a destructive occurrence that overwhelms the resources of individuals, families, and communities. It all comes down to the fact that before, during and after a disaster, we are responsible for our family’s safety and ourselves. We won’t be able to rely on our community, county, state or federal government for our wellbeing during a catastrophic disaster and we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we are as prepared as we can be in such an event. For a wealth of information about how to be prepared go to

Bob Russell, our official weather observer, said the average high temperature for February was 45 degrees and the average low was 26. Precipitation was 2.8 inches, which was boosted by a 2.5 inch snowfall on Feb. 4. “These are pretty much in line with 2018 and 2019 records,” he said and added that March showed up as advertised on the 1st with winds gusting up to 15 mph.

“We should expect a 10-degree rise in average temperatures both high and low for March. Precipitation for March 2018 was about one inch and 2019 was about three inches with only traces of snow. Freeze probabilities (low of 32 degrees) don’t drop below 50 percent until about mid-April,” Russell concluded.