Many times now I have heard people and the media compare the wild fires here to Katrina. IMHO, it is really not a fair comparison at all. With the hurricane, there was some warning, but it impacted a much larger population and area all at once. With the fires, it has come in stages. These zip codes, then these these, and then allowing some of the first ones to return home. IOW, there were always safe places to be. That makes it easier for officials to take care of those who had to flee. Utilities have not been lost county-wide. The entire time I have been able to listen to radio coverage, watch the tv and follow over the internet as things unfolded. Emergency numbers and a list of ever growing evacuation centers were available at all times. There is running water and electricity for the evacuees no matter where they go. Hotels did fill up by Monday night, but tons of schools and churches and stadium areas are open. So there are people who can help – and they are. It reached a point when the officials at Qualcomm stadium asked people to STOP bringing food!! Isn’t that awesome? Considering the amazing amount of structural devastation, the people/animal losses have been minimal. There has been plenty of places opened for animals of all sizes. Fiesta Island – often a bit of a blight on the face of Mission Bay – has been opened to horses which was a perfect use for that space. Owners could actually let their horses RUN which I am sure has kept them much calmer than they would be if they were in an enclosure the whole time. Petco has been running an entire area of the stadium parking lot just for pets. They are being totally pampered :-)
We’ve had plenty of military support. Marines, Navy and National Guard have been either fighting the fires or manning the evacuation centers or providing security in the evacuated areas since Monday night. Again, we are blessed with large bases for both of those branches of the military in our area and until yesterday when a fire has erupted now in Camp Pendelton, they were all available to us. Still, the county sheriff also announced this morning that there have only been TWO arrests for looting – and those were two teenagers looking for booze!! So, yes, the sense of community has actually overcome even the lowest criminal element instincts. Plus, there is not the desperation of Katrina since there are places to go and supplies and food provided.
Everything here has been run very well. Clearly things were learned after the 2003 fires. The reverse 911 system has been very effective in clearing people out.
I have mixed emotions about big name politicians touring the area. Part of me sees that it makes people feel better – I guess! Frankly though all I needed to see were our mayor and county supervisors and *maybe* the governor being here and talking about the resources being used. Federal politicians – to me – are only adding a burden of security to a very over-taxed system. Guess I am cynical and think this is just a grand photo op for those folks. I *know* they did their jobs this time, because we DID have the national military at our assistance right away. I don’t need to see the leaders – I just need to see things working. Swing by later when we can accommodate you and thank you. Yeah, no one will listen and they will all parade down here over the next couple of days. Ah well.
That is my long winded summary of how things have been going in my county. I am very very proud of the people of San Diego.