Vendors set up in the Waldo County YMCA gym Sept. 7 to talk with the public about emergency preparedness and encourage self-reliance.

The county's second Emergency Preparedness Fair, organized by Waldo County Emergency Management Agency, attracted more visitors and vendors this year than last, according to Waldo EMA Director Dale Rowley.

Some 200 to 300 attendees had the opportunity to speak with vendors, ranging from a forest ranger to insurance representatives.

Rowley wants people to become more self-reliant during mass power outages and extreme weather events because it is difficult for government agencies to serve the needs of large numbers of people.

“We want them to be prepared for disasters — at least a week or more,” Rowley said.

If Hurricane Dorian had stayed farther west, it could have knocked out power for a minimum of two to three weeks, he said. He does not think most people in Maine are prepared for that kind of emergency.

Rowley suggests having an alternative heat source that doesn't rely on electricity and at least a week's supply of food and water per person for power outages. A full list of disaster supplies and preparedness can be found on the Maine Emergency Management Agency’s website.

Forest Ranger Specialist Kent Nelson was at the fair to discuss forest fires and how to prevent their spread to homes. He had a display set up with a model house, yard and fire pit.

As people passed his table, Nelson asked them to evaluate the scene and identify what was wrong. It was a chance to initiate conversation about the 500-acre average that wildfires destroy a year in Maine, according to Nelson.

Because Maine has a lot of houses with nearby woods, properties are more vulnerable to wildfires, Nelson said. He said brush and softwoods, like pines and firs, should be cleared away from structures. There should be a four-to-one-foot ratio for dirt barrier width to flame height.

He suggests hardwoods closer to homes instead of brush and softwoods, which could reduce home damage during a wildfire.

“People don’t realize that softwood trees are a lot more likely to burn than hardwood,” Nelson said.

Though California is more prone to large wildfires, he urges homeowners to take caution because he said over 90% of Maine is forested.

Maine ROADWays Founder Roberta Manter attended the event to inform people about the legal status of discontinued or abandoned roads that were previously owned by a town or county. After litigation with her hometown, she established the organization to help people understand road rights.

There are 3,000 discontinued county roads, and 200 towns with problematic roads, Manter said, and most towns have multiple discontinued or abandoned roads.

Some GPS devices use discontinued or abandoned roads to create routes for travelers and non-locals end up stuck or lost because the roads have changed or become impassable. The roads often are still listed by towns or counties as public but aren't maintained.

Manter helps people find the legal status of the road they live on. She gets a lot of help from Maine Woodland Owners but said she is the only one she knows who does this work.

Maine Militia members spoke about their mission in emergencies — to uphold the Constitution. If services are necessary, the group works with local sheriff's offices.

Tammi Grass and her husband attended the event with their son as a way to keep updated on best preparedness practices and to learn about living independently.

“I’m just interested in living off the grid, and so I’m learning how to do that,” Grass said.

The event allowed her to talk with others about how they are prepared. It gave her new ideas about packing her emergency kit.

“You never know when your electricity is going to be out and it could be out for a while,” Grass said.