Week 4 NCO/EPIC Poetry Contest $100 Winning Poem: Fences by Kate Schmidt-Hopper

The creek is a winding, glittery liquid barbed wire boundary to the south. The 
     highway, black with asphalt and engine exhaust,
 Cars in gridlock, to the north, It’s tributaries full of panic,
 Valley Fire shoots flaming pine cones and hot breath in all directions, 
     Burning trees are orange walls.
 The trapped neighbors herd together on a safest property, Later guided through 
     the tangled barricades
 Of toppled power lines and choking smoke.
 The fences are down.
 One month passes and we gather again To exchange stories and email addresses, 
     Phone numbers and home locations, Insurance information…
 And assess the lucky or unlucky.
 We enclose each other in hugs and hope.
 A Rancho Facebook closed group is created,
 “Remain Calm and Rancho On” emblazoned on our new t-shirts.
 We begin to watch out for each other;
 A strange car cruising, lost dogs and goats, “Who needs eggs?”
 Resilience and rebuilding.
 Five years on, lightning strikes the land,
 Fire spotting everywhere, services stretched thin… Some flee, in an abundance 
     of caution,
 But others, cemented posts of stubbornness, Steadfastly remain,
 Watch over the empty homes, Share garden produce,
 “Help yourself to the whisky and cheddar”
 “Thank you for watering the tomatoes, and feeding the livestock”… Fire scanner 
     reports are analyzed,
 Bulldozers are put to work on fire breaks,
 The community now encircled by a red dirt barrier. Good fences make good neighbors.

This poem is based on Step xx of the 5 Steps of Emergency Preparedness:
1. Stay informed and get alerts
2. Make a plan to protect your people
3. Be ready to evacuate
4. Be prepared to stay safe at home
5. Help friends & neighbors prepare
Download a Listos California Disaster Ready Guide from North Coast Opportunities, Inc. website to learn more about the 5 Steps

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