Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2003 Revisited

4 years ago to the week, I played witness to a disaster of epic proportions. And here we go again. Interestingly, many of the same areas that were on fire in 2003 are burning again. Lake Arrowhead. Malibu. And my hometown of San Diego. This time is both worse and better. Worse in that the path of destruction is longer, larger, and wider-spread. Better in that injuries and deaths are far lower than 2003. This is mainly due to the implementation of a Reverse-911 phone system. Officials look at the fire's path, figure out what areas should be evacuated, and enter map coordinates into the computer system. It pulls all the addresses in that area, checks all the phone numbers assigned to those addresses, and calls them with a prerecorded "you need to evacuate now" message. If you have watched the show Jericho (one of my favorite shows, season 2 starts on CBS in January, unless some cancellation allows CBS to start it early), they used it to notify the residents after the nuclear blast. Anyway, officials sent out the evac notices and it seemed to give everybody enough time to at least get a few things together and make a run for it. Several people in my office were evacuated, and the area I grew up in (Rancho Penasquitos) is surrounded by Poway and Rancho Bernardo (2 major burn areas) was uniformly evacuated. I don't live there anymore, but my dad does, along with many friends. Dad being dad decided that because he didn't see any flames on the hill at the end of the cul de sac, he was going to stay. This prompted my sister, who lives in the Memphis area to ask what part of mandatory evacuation he didn't understand.

So while there are a lot of homes that burned, injuries and loss of life has been remarkably low. Probably the wildest thing I've seen was a news report that is all over YouTube. I can't access YouTube at work, so I can't give you the link, but search for "Larry Himmel" on YouTube and watch the video. He's a reporter with San Diego's CBS affiliate and he had to evacuate his house in western Rancho Bernardo. After getting his family to safety, he went to work, got a video truck, and went back and did a news update from his driveway, while his house was still smoldering! 25 years in one house, literally up in flames. The fires are now moving into more of the rural areas of the county, and there are still fires burning in Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Orange County, and LA County, but metro San Diego seems to be winding down. As evidence of this, they've lifted the evac orders for much of the Poway and Rancho Penasquitos areas. Rancho Bernardo is still under evac orders mainly because of the damage and lack of infrastructure (no power, gas, water, debris-clogged streets, etc.), but the metro area seems to be coming back under control. Because of the evac orders, not to mention the safety factor and the fact that I'm not that stupid, I didn't take any pictures of the devastation. All of these pictures were grabbed from the San Diego Union-Tribune website.

This is a shot taken on State Route 67 heading west from Ramona towards Poway, around 10 pm on 10/21/07. East and westbound lanes were opened up to westbound traffic.

This is taken from an upscale neighborhood in East Poway, near Poway Lake.

Another East Poway picture.

Northern Rancho Bernardo.

Interstate 15 (my route to Las Vegas). Looking north at the southbound lanes. This was taken from the Duenda Road overcrossing. This is where the fire jumped into the Westwood community.

This was in Westwood. For the record, those were a circa 1992 Toyota Tercel and a circa 1995 Honda Accord.

Another Westwood home.

Finally, you may have noticed the revised layout of The Randomness. I have hit 200 posts and decided to switch templates. I don't know if I'm going to keep this one, but for now, welcome to The Randomness 2.0.


River Driver said...

Pictures are scary. I hate seeing places I know and love in flames.

Burst into tears while I was driving this morning, listening to NPR's report. They interviewed a guy in Malibu whose house burned in the 90's. He rebuilt and bought a bunch of professional fire fighting gear in the event the neighborhood burned again. He didn't have to use it--his house survived. But he had packed belongings in the event he had to abandon the house, and he said when he went back in he realized he had left items in every room associated with family members who had passed on, almost as though he was asking them for protection. And it worked.

Anyway, I've been telling people the story of the man who faxed the prayer to his home fax machine during the Cedar Fire--theirs was the only house on the street in Scripps Ranch where they lived that did not burn.

On a side note, your template shows up kind of funny on my Mac. The links at the top (the Blogger links, I think) get covered up with your blog description.

iamhoff said...

Yeah, it renders that way too on Firefox. But the standard Blogger template that I had didn't render the sidebar properly on Firefox. It's unfortunately a Microsquash world. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. Maybe you could apply to be Bill's towel boy (girl).

smokkee said...

good to know you made it through ok. we were a little worried earlier this week. but, all is good, for us at least. i just found out the Chargers will play their game in Qualcomm on Sunday. so, looking forward to that.

Steve said...

this is a much more real account of events on the west coast than we get on UK news programmes... Sorry to here about the weather over there guys...

why don't you play online poker to ease the pain? win some money and rebuild your properties...