Courtesy of our frequent commenter, Carl Scott. Look here and here. Among all the disturbing and sad news comes a special worry for the soldiers and their families based at Camp Pendleton--as that area is now subject to some evacuations.
Project K.I.D., a wonderful group co-founded by my friend Lenore Ealy in the wake of the 2005 Katrina disaster, is already on the scene trying to help families with child care issues as they go about re-establishing their lives and their homes. (Imagine trying to navigate the mess of insurance and clean-up and federal agencies with a toddler in tow!) They are also working on general disaster-preparedness issues with a focus on localized (and therefore, more effective) efforts. This is something we all would do well to consider more than we are prone to do. Conservatives, especially, talk a lot about personal and localized responsibility. But how many of us really know what we would do in the event of an emergency like this? What is your plan? I confess that we have some plans . . . but not enough. And I’m not sure where I would go in my community for help if I needed it. Today is a good day to start thinking about that. In the meantime, it’s also a good day to help groups like Project K.I.D. who have taken it upon themselves to think these things through for us and point us in the right direction.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt is recommending Kithbridge as another very useful link. I see they’re also linking "And I Still Persist" and "Infinite Monkeys." Good calls.
Thanks to Julie for noting Project K.I.D.'s efforts. We have to be more modest, however, and say that a local California volunteer trained with the Project KID model and equipped with supplies has been navigating local response. Project K.I.D.'s approach is to help civilians develop the tools, capabilities and confidence they need to respond to the needs of children in these crisis situations. For certain humanitarian needs, outside groups are less important in the midst of crisis and its immediate aftermath than local populations who have worked together to create resilient communities.
The Fires and the Blame Game
The big story in the US at the moment is the fires that have engulfed southern California from Ventura County to the Mexican border. As I write this, we have had about 20 declared fires. Since I live in Orange County, it affects me, though, as yet, not to the extent that it has affected others who have been evacuated and/or lost their homes. Where I live, we have 2 fires burning about 3 miles away from us, but we appear to be safe. As I keep my fingers crossed and pray for my fellow Southern Californians, I would like to make a few observations for the benefit of those of you not living here.
First of all, I am proud of the response we have received from our fire-fighters, National Guard and law enforcement. Their work has been nothing short of heroic. Whatever you may have heard elsewhere, coordination between the local, state and federal agencies has been great, a far cry from what happened during Hurricane Katrina, especially in New Orleans.
Governor Schwarzenegger has perfomed admirably. He is on the scene and making sure that everything that should be done is done. The responsible agencies are performing their duties in a professional manner.
The people, those who have been evacuated or lost their homes, have also acted admirably. Everyone has come together and helped each other without complaints. At this time, about 10,000 persons are being sheltered at QualCom Park in San Diego (home of the Chargers). There are no disturbances, no violence-nothing but good citizens who are grateful for the help they are receiving. Nobody has been shot-nobody has been raped. No first-responders have deserted their posts.
At this point, there has been only one report of looting-two teenagers, who were quickly arrested. Arson is now known to be the cause of the fires in Orange County.
As critical as I have been about conditions in my state, today I am proud of the manner in which the authorities and public have responded to this disaster.
Yet, regrettably, some have pounced on this disaster to make political points. Harry Reid, in his usual idiotic way, has stated that the cause of the fires is-Global Warming. The actress, Jamie Lee Curtis, blames Man for living too close to nature's habitat ( I am paraphrasing.) One of our goofy senators, Barbara Boxer, made a statement today criticizing President Bush for the fact that members of the California National Guard are presently serving in Iraq, thus not available to help out in California. Our Lt. Governor, John Garamendi, made a similar statement, adding that when President Bush arrives (Thursday), "we will be polite", but stating that Bush will simply "be in the way".
Today, I watched an interview with the Commander of the California National Guard, who explained that at present, about 2,000 National Guard troops are deployed with over 15,000 standing by and available. (There are about 2,000 in Iraq.) Memo to Senator Boxer of California and Lt Governor Garamendi: Why don't you do your homework? It's your state!
Then there was ABC National News reporter, Claire Shipman, who today corralled Governor Schwarzenegger with a microphone and asked him about "those who complain that not enough resources are reaching those in need quickly enough". To his credit, the Governor put her in her place, explaining that although she was looking for problems, everything was working as it should.
So what we have here is the Democratic Senator of California and a member of the good ol' mainstream news media trying to score political points against Bush and Schwarzenegger at a time when we are still trying to put the flames out. Similarly, the left-wing blogs are all over Bush. The enviromentalists, predictably, are attributing this to Global Warming and the errors of Man living so close to nature, etc. etc,... Never mind that the environmental lobby has prevented the Forest Service from clearing out old, dead trees and underbrush, which in our dry areas, has undoubtedly contributed to the rapid spread of fires in our state.
For those of you not familiar with Southern California, ours is a land with not much rainfall and much dry acreage. We also have the so-called dry Santa Ana winds, that come every year and contribute greatly to the fire hazard. Thus, we have an annual fire season. This is nothing new, just the worst.
At this point, there is absolutely no comparison to Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. Unlike New Orleans and Louisiana, our governor and local leaders have performed in a professional manner. The Feds have learned the lessons of Katrina and are coordinating well with their state and local counterparts. The point is that it should not matter who is liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. We are trying to save lives and property here. Those who are standing on the sidelines and trying to assess blame for political advantage should be ashamed.