Evacuation Over

The evacuation is over, I’m back at the RV park. Scale of destruction. Plus rants about a visit to the devastation in Paradise by [he who shall not be named] and another about the American Red Cross.

I’m back at the RV park and about 22,000 of the 52,000+ Camp Fire evacuees can also return home.  For the rest, there’s nothing to return to.

Related:  Evacuation, Fire Evacuation Contd.

The End Game

The current stats on the fire are now 88 fatalities (which does not count those who died at evacuation centers) and 203 missing. As for property 13,696 homes, 276 apartment buildings and 528 commercial buildings were destroyed. Thousands more damaged.

The RV park I’m at was not damaged – CAL Fire constructed a fire line around it and burned the ground away for almost a mile in all directions.  The first rain in 229 days then reached the area and finally put out the fire.

The air has cleared of smoke, but of course everything still smells burnt. 

Rant – HWSNBN

How was the visit to Paradise by [he who shall not be named]?  Well that went about as expected – dumbass comments off the chart:

  • Called the town “Pleasure” five times in one incoherent ramble.
  • Continued to deny Climate Change.
  • Said he “wants good climate”.
  • Said the President of Finland told him they raked the forest! Much to the surprise of the Finnish President and all the rest of the Finns.  #MakeAmericaRakeAgain!
  • … and so much more I can’t even stand to think about it.

Rant – Community vs. Red Cross Support

The community volunteers at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds were fabulous and generous. Thousands of them. And their donations were extreme. The Red Cross? Not so much.  They arrived a week after the evacuation, kicked out all the volunteers and removed most of the donated supplies. Hot meals provided by local restaurants? No more. Evacuees were fuming that coffee was being served at 2oz per person. Now I didn’t go verify that but I did make a cup of coffee for anyone trying to bend my ear ranting about it. The mood at the shelter was in freefall when I left.

I’m sure no expert about disaster management, and it’s very easy to complain. My privileged position – having my whole house with me – meant I didn’t feel personally the things that made so many upset. Still it was clear that the mood at the shelter changed from gratitude and appreciation for the support of the community to anger and hopelessness in a single day.

Putting aside the issue of performance in a disaster, I don’t support the organization financially,

The Red Cross raised over $1.2 million, in a telethon lasting just a few hours, “for the victims of the Camp Fire” in partnership with Sacramento TV station KCRA. However, the fine print on the donation form reads that the donations go to the Red Cross general fund, not to aid any specific incident. Much like Katrina or the $500+ million raised for Haiti very little will actually find its way to the victims donors thought they were helping specifically. Please support a more accountable charity in lieu of the American Red Cross.

Evacuation

It was a lazy morning, until I got a text from Jenna checking to see if I was OK and ventured back outside to check on this fire thing.  The smoke was thick and ash was falling everywhere.  An hour before nothing was going on. Now Clark Road was choked with bumper to bumper traffic heading south and fire equipment heading north.

Paradise Lost

The “Camp Fire” started at sunrise (about 6:30) on Thursday, November 8, near Pulga, California.  The National Weather Service had a Red Flag Warning up for the past couple of days and firefighters responded aggressively attacking the then 10 acre blaze.  By 7:30am the fire had grown to 3,000+ acres and Paradise, a town of 26,000, was under mandatory evacuation.  By 8:30 Paradise was on fire.

Time to Go

At the RV park we lost power and water just after 9am. It was time to go. I quickly got the RV into travel mode and joined the walking speed traffic heading south. That night I’d learn at least five people burned to death in their cars fleeing Paradise.

I stopped at an evacuation center outside Oroville about 10 miles south with about 30 RVs and 200+ cars.  I brought my house while many others brought just a few photos, their  pets and the clothes they had on.  I gave away my blankets, a knit cap and gloves. Oroville residents cruised the park passing out water, food and blankets.  Overnight the low was 33 and we had one fatality. They say it was a heart attack, but I don’t really know.

Déjà vu Time to Go Two

By 5am the fire had grown to 70,000+ acres driven by high winds overnight. The southern perimeter still seemed to be 9 miles north.  The air stank of smoke, but the haze wasn’t horrible.  Nevertheless, just before noon, CHP and Butte County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived in force and said we had to go NOW, passing out maps to the fairgrounds in Yuba City, 45 miles south of the fire.

At arrival, a friend from the RV park needed EMT assistance.

The fire, just one of three major fires burning in California, is now among the worst in the state’s history.  The places I stayed, shopped and hiked in Paradise are lost along with thousands of homes, businesses and an unknown number of lives.

More to follow.