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Disaster Preparedness News

Recent Wildfires Devastate California as Weather Conditions Leave Firefighters Struggling

Soaring temperatures, bone dry weather, and strong Santa Ana winds have left more than half a dozen Southern California communities struggling with severe wildfires. As bad weather and record low rainfall seasons converge, many of the communities have been caught off guard by what firefighters are calling some of the worst fires in the California’s history. In a repeat of the 1993 season, Malibu, and surrounding areas, were among the first hit as local citizens and students at nearby Pepperdine University were given mixed responses on how to deal with the emergency. While many were told to leave their homes or businesses under orders of a voluntary evacuation, students at Pepperdine University were told to remain on campus or in their dorms, leaving many parents concerned and struggling to get in touch with children who attend the school (KABC-7, abclocal.go.com/kabc).

However, more attention is focused on the largest and most damaging of the wildfires, San Diego’s “Cedar Fire”. The fire, which burned more than 600,000 acres, destroyed more than 1200 homes and forced the evacuation of over 500,000 people. Damage estimates have topped more than $1 billion in San Diego county alone (news.yahoo.com). Local residents were taken to makeshift emergency shelters, while many, in scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, were directed by overwhelmed emergency responders to gather at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. President Bush, who has promised emergency federal aid and support for the state, will travel to California to witness the devastation firsthand. With more than seven California counties declared federal emergency zones, disaster-relief and government aid is all that many families can hope for at this point in time (cnn.com, msnbc.com).

Amid the confusion, one of the statements repeated most by those being interviewed was that: “they didn’t think it could happen to them”. Sadly, for many who have lost their homes and life belongings, the time for preparation has passed. The lesson for those unaffected by the wildfires is that we must all prepare for the unexpected. Disasters like these highlight how quickly an individuals’ life can be put in danger, but they also show how something as small as a 72 hour kit containing emergency food and some basic survival planning can often times mean the difference between life and death. Though you can’t predict when an emergency or disaster will strike, you can certainly prepare. Being ready with even a simple preparedness plan could mean the difference between having to call authorities for help or being able to assist those around you that are in need.

By Jon Stoll
QuakeKare Press
Oct. 27th 2007