Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

October 23, 2007

Head East Young Man — No, Wait — Make that West.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 2:51 pm

There was absolutely nothing that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) could have done over the last 48 hours (Sunday 10/21/07 and Monday 10/22/07) to solve the problems that confronted us. We were threatened by yet another massive firestorm here in San Diego County. If you saw the reports you will know that 300+ homes were burned out in Rancho Bernardo. If you go to Google maps and enter 11517 Danza Circle (a burned down house I chose randomly) and zoom out a little until you can see this location and Poway Lake at the same time you will see that our house in RB is two miles from the 300 burned out RB homes and 3 miles from the burned out homes near Poway Lake.(We are just to the right of the Bernardo Heights Country Club). We are also three miles from the path of the fire that went from San Pasqual Valley under US 15 south of Lake Hodges and resulted in the RB fires.

When they started evacuating the hospital a mile from our house, I happily starting loading up my car with our stuff. (Let me interject here that I like my stuff a lot. I am quite unembarrassed to say that my golf clubs got left behind but my stereo system – sans speakers – and my computer data fit into the car nicely.) Never once did I remorsefully reflect on Thoreau’s admonition to never accumulate more stuff than you can carry on your back. Deborah loaded up her car too. We never agreed on where it was we were going to evacuate to although we received several offers. She jammed her computer, all her photo albums, negatives, slides – dating back to 1972, a few knick knacks, a suitcase and 2 cases of water and snacks.

One thing for sure I learned during this episode is that my pastor is really doing his job. We got 5 phone calls from him making sure we were OK. (90% of our church actually was evacuated from their homes – see my comments on numbers below).

The Cedar Fire in October 25 of 2003, which brought flames to within 1/2 mile of our house in Poway, burned 280,000 acres and destroyed 2,200 houses and killed 15, is now supposedly taking a back seat to these current fires WRT overall severity. Current reports of 400,000 acres burned indicate that this assessment is true.

I don’t remember being glued to a TV four years ago watching the local news reporting of the status of the fires. But this time, I had nothing else to do. So, here I am to blog what I found out about our local newscasters.

1. Some day there may be actual coordination between entities news reporting the news. As it stands right now, they make totally independent reports. This makes for a great deal of innefficiency. I would like to see a station be assigned to a specific fire, rather than the present case in which each station tries to cover everything. I doubt I will ever see this idea put into practice.

2. The reporters don’t really know the territory. This results in some pretty goofy mistakes that local residents, who are the ones that actually need correct info, pick up on immediately and are left scratching their heads.

3. Reporters don’t know East from West. We heard this all the time. It drove me crazy.

4. Verbal reports either from the faces behind the desks or on the street would be overlaid on videos that didn’t match what was being reported.

5. Videos that were gratuitously displayed just because. I would like to see every video labelled with time and location. (This would help eliminate running and re-running old shots that they tend to put up just because they want so bad to show houses burning to the ground).

6. Anecdotal stories that just waste time. We want information not sentimental interviews with folks  about how they got their cat out alive. Speaking of cats, we’ve got a lot of animals in SoCal. So, the authorities have to expend an enormous amount of effort to deal with horse evacuations.

7. Numbers. You’ve probably heard that there have been 900,000 people evacuated (that figure may include the Malibu area, but they like to play games with statistics so one can’t really tell). I personally don’t believe it, but I may be wrong. First of all, that would mean that there are, for example, 900 shelters that each can hold 1000 people. (I am ignoring however many people may have checked into hotels in safe areas. Every motel and hotel in San Diego safe areas have NO VACANCY signs out front.) Qualcomm stadium alone is only housing 9000 people (at press time). I have seen lists of shelters go by for three days and I can state that I have seen at most MAYBE 50 shelters opened up few of which can hold 1000 people. I think what they are really claiming is that the populations of the areas evacuated totals 900,000 people.  Secondly, we are just two of the many folks that ignored the evacuation order. This morning I drove through our old Poway neighborhood that was one of those told to evacuate, and I could see no evidence at all that anyone left.

Many of my regular readers might agree with my findings since they live here too. What do you think? Tell us how you saved your cat.

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16 Comments »

  1. Glad to hear that you guys are safe. How are the rest of the SoCal Settergrens?

    Comment by Ellen — October 23, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

  2. R is in the most safe area so he is kinda just hanging out and not even following the news all that closely. E is nearby in Poway and spent Monday night with us with her kids due to having seen actual flames from their front porch. But that threat is over. T is up in Murrieta and in a line between the Fallbrook fires and those in Riverside County. Although he is about 10 miles from any fires, the two evacuation areas (Riverside county and SD county) have actually merged – as of about 2 PM. We can’t get through to him at the moment so we don’t know what he is thinking.

    Comment by Bruce S. — October 23, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  3. The wife and I went the “water into wine” route and drove up to Napa Valley.

    Wildfires are for the birds. I’ve never hated the news more in my life. When I really needed information, I got a bunch of hints at possibilities, no hard facts, just to tantalize me and make me afraid to turn the TV off for fear of possibly missing something. I hate the news. I hate it.

    I thought, why wouldn’t they just show a map more or less continually showing where the fires currently ARE with detailed road information on it? It’s not hard to do. You could probably pay a high school kid a hundred bucks to update it for you. Why wouldn’t it occur to them to do that?

    Oh, that’s right, if they did, people wouldn’t watch TV all day. They’d see what they need to know and turn it off and relax.

    People kept complaining about this lack of hard facts, and the newsanchors kept responding that the firefighters have better things to do than count burnt homes. That’s low on their priority.

    They act as if people are desperate for news about specific houses. Some are, but the rest of us want to know where the FIRE IS!!!. Is that too much to ask? I want to know where the fire is so I can make an intelligent decision about whether to leave or not!

    Whatever. I’m in wine country.

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — October 23, 2007 @ 10:36 pm

  4. Alex and I were thinking the whole time, “Where is the fire? Where are the maps?” I know several people that actually had to go and drive around to get a feel of how far away they were. That shouldn’t have to happen.

    I also don’t think I can look at another news reporter again. They are over-tanned, over-botoxed, and why did they feel that we wanted to hear their “heartfelt” philosophicalisms every two seconds.

    The only problem I think they need to work on is the reverse 911 calls. A lot of people don’t have land lines anymore. And the reverse 911s don’t work for cell phones.

    Comment by 5najeras — October 24, 2007 @ 8:19 am

  5. I am very glad that the possibility of needing to evacuate seems to have passed. Hope the winds continue to be westerly.

    Do u know the status of the home in Poway?

    Incidentally, the temp her is in 60s lots of sunshine, blue skies, mild winds from the north.

    Will lt u know when the temp gets down to 10 below!!

    Comment by setty — October 24, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

  6. Emily,

    I just saw this blog linked from somewhere else http://sosdfireblog.blogspot.com/ and the first post up there right now has a link to a place where you can register your cell phone for the reverse 911. http://sosdfireblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/registering-cell-phones-for-reverse-911.html

    Comment by Ellen — October 24, 2007 @ 6:14 pm

  7. Yeah, I don’t have a land line. I think I need to get one.

    But even still, where I live in S. Escondido was sandwiched between two mandatory evacuation areas. I had no land line, and all the maps I saw online just lumped my area in with the mandatory evacuation areas, but my neighbor, who had a land line, got no evacuation call.

    Meanwhile, I live only about 5 mi north of the northern edge of the path of the fire to the south of Escondido.

    But did I KNOW that when it was still burning? No, of course not. Nor did I know I was only blocks away from a mandatory evacuation area – in two directions. So like an idiot, I stayed in my apartment Monday night while my wife went to work at the hospital.

    Then the next morning, Tues, I finally got a hold of the map on the sdcountyemergency.com website, and saw how close the fires were, and how I was surrounded and far closer to the fires than I would have liked. I was suddenly very uncomfortable. So when my wife got home from work, we packed up the car and drove to Napa.

    I wanted to get as far away from the fires as possible. I don’t trust any of the information, and I don’t like that feeling of having no idea what’s going on. I don’t understand fires, how they move, how they operate, what to expect, etc. I don’t know the geography well, so when they just rattle off a bunch of roads and areas I have no idea at ALL what they’re talking about.

    So fine. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. It’s beautiful up here, the air is clean, and they’ve never heard of Escondido.

    Next time there’s wildfires like that, this is what we’re doing. It’s such a relief to be away from all the uncertainty and anxiety and frustration. Not to mention the clean air, the beauty of the area and the charm, and of course, the wine.

    Comment by Echo_ohcE — October 25, 2007 @ 9:30 am

  8. Ah, it takes a librarian to find the right info….so glad that, whether on the maps or on the streets, you have escaped the fires.

    Comment by Barbara — October 26, 2007 @ 4:24 am

  9. The anchors at the desk are the worst. 2 things that stood out the most:

    1) They are overly concerned with the safety of their co-workers.

    The field reporters are out in the fire lines doing their job and all the anchor can say is, “Your too close to the fire, please stay back.” or, “those fire fighters have helmets on and you don’t, please be careful.”

    Here is an idea: Let them do their job so we can all get an up close look at what is going on and you just sit there and listen. I know you think you are an authority figure because you sit behind the desk but you are not their parents, they are adults and can assess risk just fine they don’t need you reminding them that they are in a dangerous situation.

    2) The field reporters contradict the anchors and it is hillarious.

    The anchors spend most their time telling everyone how dangerous fire is from the comfort of their studio and how when you are given a notice to evacuate do so even if the fire is 10 miles away.

    Then the field reporter gets an interview with a “brave” individual who has decided to stay behind and fend off the fire for himself. He\she is praising this individual for his bravery and you can just hear the anchors cringing.

    Make up your mind people, either the message will be get out and you will not glorify those who stay behind to help or you will glorify those who stay behind realizing that it is a choice everyone has to make individually.

    These news anchors take themselves way too seriously.

    Comment by pokerforprofit — October 26, 2007 @ 9:18 am

  10. There was a great report on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday about the San Diego NPR affiliate station (KPBS, the folks who did that Google map I posted earlier) – it seems like they were providing the information that y’all were wanting earlier in the week.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15655316

    Comment by Ellen — October 27, 2007 @ 6:11 am

  11. Bruce, you’re not taking into account the evacuees who went to stay at a friend or family member’s home. I am not saying that the 900,000 is accurate but I have talked to probably 20 families who were evacuated and exactly none of them went to a shelter of any kind, they all had a loved one in a safe area who could house them.

    One thing I found particularly annoying about the news was the lack of coverage of the Ramona area. I live in RB off of West Bernardo Drive and evacuated to my parents house in Poway. Also there was my Sister’s family who was evacuated from Ramona. Throughout the whole week we were constantly updated on the status of the homes in the RB area, so we knew our house was fine, but there was virtually no coverage of the Ramona area. I know it was very stressful for my Sister and her family to not know what was going on near her home.

    On the flip side of the news I found the Anchors and field reporters to be an amusing distraction. As was said before their reporting shows their lack of knowledge of the San Diego area, and often lack of common sense. That being said you can’t be expected to be perfect when your are on camera non-stop for much of the day. Our family’s favorite field reporter was Channel 8’s Shawn Styles. Every time he was on camera it was an accident waiting to happen. Just a few of his bloopers: Jumping in line to help a fireman and telling him he has more hose for him to go further, only for the fireman to try and advance and be jerked backwards because there was no hose left. Standing on camera with a palm tree behind him commenting “this palm tree could go up in flames at any time” just as the palm tree ignites in a giant fireball and him and his cameraman having to run from the blaze while yelling. And the best of all: Flipping through a stack of family photos he had rescued from a burning home only show a full topless photo of a woman on live tv. Priceless.

    Comment by Pablo Honey — October 27, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  12. I agree there are friends and relatives who housed folks. But I don’t even buy the conservative 500,000 estimates.

    I also wondered what happened to Ramona. You’d think from the news that none of Ramona is left standing.

    Unfortunately, I somehow missed all of Shawn Styles’ efforts.

    Comment by Bruce S. — October 27, 2007 @ 8:58 am

  13. Something is wrong with my RSS aggregator, or the feed coming out of this blog, because only now does it see these recent comments (and still doesn’t see the two most recent posts!) Which is why I haven’t been dropping comments all along.

    Well, Dad had passed along my status accurately. We rode the fires out in relative safety and clear skies, and now pretty much everything is back to normal. The neighborhood in RB with the worst damage (74 out of 138 homes gone) is adjacent to the park where I play ultimate, and the park has become a staging ground for the relief effort. A woman I work with still has her house, even though the house behind her was leveled.

    Comment by RubeRad — October 30, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  14. Wow how did I miss all of this conversation? OH I know, probably because the phrase “regular readers” doesn’t fit when you’re posting every 2 months or so.

    Anyhow I was quite concerned for you and B since I knew you had moved to RB but wasn’t sure as to where.

    I was also quite concerned for echo since I knew lived in Esco and assumed east Esco do to school proximity. I am glad to hear that none in this blogging community were negatively impacted by the fires (at least not any more than the rest of us).

    Pablo is right on in regards to Shawn Styles. The Emmy worthy footage of him rifling through framed photos only to find one of a topless woman. But what made that story all the more hilarious was that they had later footage of the woman coming to the studio to collect those precious family photos.

    Her appearance immediately answered the question we all naturally ask, “What kind of woman has a framed photo of herself topless?”

    Comment by danielbalc — October 31, 2007 @ 9:06 am

  15. Bruce,

    Will we have the pleasure of seeing you guys accompany your grandchildren to our annual cavity festival tonight?

    Comment by danielbalc — October 31, 2007 @ 9:07 am


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