The MERRAG group in Montecito has laid out its goals for the 2019 year after coming off of one of the biggest years for disaster response in anyone’s recent memory.
MERRAG stands for Montecito Emergency Recovery and Recovery Action Group.
Those involved volunteer their time to help at information kiosks, door-to-door emergency information contacts and safety programs community wide.
They also have a radio network to communicate when cell phones are down.
Past President Sue Ziliotto says during the 2018 mudflow catastrophe and 2017 Thomas Fire, her group was “prepared to help the community. E verybody wanted to help until such time as their home was in an evacuation zone.”
At a breakfast meeting Thursday at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, current President Troy Harris and MERRAG volunteers were joined by the Montecito Fire Protection District, Search and Rescue and other interested community members.
He says, “community outreach and information” is a primary goal especially when the fire and sheriff’s departments are overwhelmed with calls. Ziliotto says they just can’t handle all the 911 calls for information when they have to deal with priority issues such as life saving rescues. Harris says the radio network is very valuable and unique for the area. If neighborhood leaders want to connect to the system, MERRAG coordinates the process. Often the volunteers are seen at the information kiosks such as the one set up in the upper village lawn. “It’s become a go to place for people to say what’s happening? What’s next? What do we expect? How do we deal with this information?” said Harris. This weekend they will be going to every door in Montecito to make sure residents have information about the new debris flow maps just released by emergency officials. For more information about MERRAG go to: https://www.merrag.org/