October 22, 2007

San Diego Fires

Even though I've never suffered from a natural disaster (my heart goes out to those who have), I have been around them all my life. Growing up in TX, there were tornadoes throughout Dallas & Ft. Worth every year, but none ever affected me. The coast was hit with some pretty nasty hurricanes, but by the time they got to us, they were just bad thunderstorms.

I moved to the Philippines in 1995 (so hard to believe it's been 12 years!), and it was a particularly bad typhoon season. We had a string of typhoons, the most tragic being Typhoon Rosing (Angela), which took almost 1000 lives. This storm lasted for 6 days, and at one point both sides of it were in the ocean and covering our island at the same time. I lived about an hour inland, so I was hardly affected. We lost power for 10 days, but I just used it as an excuse to write letters by candlelight! Thousands of people were displaced from their homes.

By far the worst weather I have experienced was in Little Rock, AR, on Christmas Eve, 2004. I was hosting a party that night and ran to Walmart 7 hours before the party was supposed to start to get last minute food and supplies. While I was in the store, the ice storm descended. I was at a stand still on Cantrell for hours. The frightening part occurred, though, once I got out of that traffic. For those of you who don't know West Little Rock-it's HILLY!!!! I got a 1/2 mile from home and seeing people all over the sides of the road didn't think I could get up the last hill to our apt. I parked my car in a parking lot, and started climbing the hill, groceries in hand. With no gloves, my fingers were frozen by the time I got home. I was just happy to be alive and couldn't figure out how I hadn't crashed our car into someone.

But today has been an entirely different experience. San Diego is an awesome vacation spot because it doesn't have the things I've mentioned above. We don't have tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, or even noticeable earthquakes like CA is famous for. Sadly, we don't even get good rain, which sets us up for what we do get: Fires. Fire and Santa Ana winds are the only 2 real weather conditions San Diego gets, and they are a lethal combination. If you've seen the news, you know that San Diego is inundated with fires right now. Because wildfires are new to me, I thought I would share some things I've heard today that I've never heard before:

1) 211 - this is a non-emergency number
2) Reverse 911 - Police call your home to tell you to evacuate
3) Black screen on network television station, with this scrolled at bottom: "We have suspended televised broadcast due to fires."
4) Evening television lineup (including Heroes) will be broadcast next Sunday
5) Charger practice has been relocated to Phoenix, AZ, and 40 players have been evacuated, including LT.
6) Sea World closed due to fires.
7) "Interstate closed because of fires" on the traffic billboard.
8) Fires are referred to by names (ex: "Witch Creek Fire"). The name usually comes from the area the fire started. The fires now are commonly being compared to the 2003 Cedar Fire, but they say the Santa Ana winds in that fire had lessened by this point. They still expect another day of these winds.
9) I've never been 10 miles from a mandatory evacuation region.
10) "The fires won't make it past the ocean."
11) Spoken by a firefighter being interviewed, "If you recognize any of the following addresses, your home has burned to the ground."
12) Lay Down-this is the term used for the Santa Ana winds calming in the night. Because the winds die down, they say the fire "lays down" at night. As soon as the sun rises, the winds pick back up.

As I write this at 7am on Tuesday, these fires are mostly Zero Percent contained. One is 5% contained. They are hoping the Witch Creek Fire will not go beyond where it is right now because evidently if it does, it's got a clear path all the way to the coast. A new "finger" of the Harris Fire down south came out of no where in the middle of the night. It seriously looks like lava slowly coming down a mountain.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Just wondering how you are doing? How's the breathing issues? Where will you go if you have to evacuate?