Thursday, October 25, 2007

San Diego Fire, Thursday, October 25, 2007

The fires began on Sunday, This is the first morning in 5 days that we woke without smelling smoke in the air. What you may not gather from national coverage is that of the half million people evacuated, most were ordered to leave so the emergency personnel could concentrate on fighting fire and not traffic or panicked residents. In the back country, they wanted the narrow winding roads through canyons and valleys empty so fire trucks could travel unimpeded. By this morning, most of these people were able to return home. Our place is a mess from the winds, but we’re otherwise fine

When they finally started checking IDs at the Q, the number of evacuees went from almost 5,000 to barely 400. Apparently, many people were drawn there by the prospect of good food and good company. The ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) went through scattering many homeless illegal people back into the shadows we prefer them to occupy. As Randy Newman said, “we care that the world isn’t fair”. It was particularly painful to the rich people whose hilltop mansions in the country may have been burned or damaged to have to undergo the additional stress of mingling with poor people. While journalists like to stand in front of smoldering ruins and tilting chimneys to report on the devastation, we'd rather not consider the many shanty towns in back country canyons where many of our agricultural workers camped illegally. Of course, because they don’t have identification papers with their addresses, they won’t be counted or served.

But the good news is that there is now a “Prayer Station” at the Q, manned by people in black pants and bright gold shirts who are trained in crisis counseling and grief counseling and prayer. They call themselves “God’s Bumble Bees”. No, I’m not kidding.

No information on Lake Arrowhead fires beyond the still mandatory evacuation orders. If his house is still standing in Arrowhead Villas, Kareem says it proves there is no god because he prayed to no god to save it. J&K are on their way to Riverside because UCR is open and they’ve got classes. Their colleagues have been taking their sessions, but at Teaching Assistants, they are in charge of their sections and don’t want to depend too heavily on the kindness of friends to cover for them. They’re making the 2 hour drive – almost exactly 100 miles from our door to the campus – knowing only that they can’t return to their home a mere 20 miles from school, but will have to drive back to San Diego for the night.

President Bush is in the house today, making aerial tours and standing in the same photo op places occupied by our state and local officials for the past week. One of the reason The Governator got his job is that when big fires in San Diego County exactly 4 years ago this week, his predecessor didn’t show up to feel our pain and his ass was recalled. Now that the fires in San Diego are winding down, perhaps officials will travel north to check out the Irvine Fire, the Malibu Fire, and the fires burning in the San Bernardino mountains overlooking Riverside.

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