Echo Lake-Lost Lake community is reinforcing neighborhood bonds
Groups of residents are getting together for emergency preparedness classes such as the one above.
SNOHOMISH — In the far-flung region of Echo Lake and Lost Lake, pockets of neighbors are unifying to become a prepared and resilient group of people.
The effort to make a neighborhood group blossomed last year, but last month’s 4.6 magnitude earthquake served as a big wake-up call, said Janet Macher, who became the group’s de facto president* this spring.
Look at the geography. The area is a triangle situated between Monroe, Woodinville and Maltby and lies south of state Route 522. If disaster strikes, the neighborhood has two main roads, and the land that hasn’t been subdivided into neighborhoods has homes spaced out
5 acres or more.
For years, neighbors characterize, the rural area of 2,500 residents simply didn’t know much about each other.
The group now hosts emergency preparedness classes, a ham radio club, a book club, a gardening club and more.
This year the community put together a National Night Out event. Its next goal, Macher said, is going through the Map Your Neighborhood emergency preparedness program: Who’s got a chainsaw if the road’s blocked? Who will need emergency supplies in a disaster? Which neighbors need to be checked in on?
The area is attracting new neighbors seeking a quiet home in fast-growing Snohomish County, said Wendy Wester, an area neighbor in the real estate business. Many new residents are commuting to jobs in King County, Wester added.
Bill Cooper, who’s been a police chief, has a mission behind teaching emergency preparedness classes.
If there’s a regional disaster, people here won’t be top priority against Seattle or Everett, but they will need to be able to take care of one another, Cooper emphasized.
An earthquake fault line along Bothell runs close to the Echo Lake neighborhood, he said. Neighbors are going to need to be able to respond to neighbors quickest if a potential 9.0 magnitude quake hits. By how he sees it, there are eight sections within the area, and response coverage is not yet adequate.
“It isn’t a function of fear, it’s a function of preparedness,” Cooper said.
The Echo Lake/Lost Lake ham radio group, which so far has 16 or so amateur radio users from all walks of life, will provide the important communications link for the area as cell phone service is not fail-safe, Cooper said. A neighbor who works in Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management teaches the radio club.
Through emergency management classes, neighbors gained trust with each other and grew to know each other, Macher said.
“We’re seeing people who long for that sense of community,” Macher said.
Wester is part of the community’s welcoming committee.
The effort is wonderful, Wester said. “We have such a nice group of neighbors, but because we’re so rural, it took the emergency preparedness classes and National Night Out” to get people together.
The 20 or so people who have gone through Cooper’s emergency preparation class is “20 more people I know than when I started,” Wester said.
Longtime neighbor Germaine Fitzgerald — known for her Model T car — doorbelled the area with Heather Price to announce the neighborhood’s National Night Out event, and wrote on the experience that people are receptive that the neighborhood is coming together. When she made the rounds, people came out of their homes to chat on their porches and share information.
The neighborhood meets monthly. Meeting notices are posted to the bulletin board at the Rainbow Market on Echo Lake Road or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
The group’s website is www.echolakecommunity.org
Janet Macher is the president of the community group, not its chairwoman as reported in the print edition.
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