Pain almost swallows you when you try to write – about anything – when your next door-neighborhoods have residents running for their lives from the horror of explosive wildfires!
You know that only by the Grace of God has your section of a sprawling metropolis been spared so far. It’s been happening year after year since the western drought became so prolonged and severe. The next onslaught of high winds – forecast as high as 70 mph – could bring the fires to your nearest big intersection or even onto your own block.
Just watching the footage of images brings tears to my eyes: homes engulfed by raging flames, families putting crying children into vehicles, frightened elderly trying to hurry to chartered buses with their walkers, horses and other animals screaming with fear.
Too many people think, “Oh, they’re rich,” or “Oh, they’ve got insurance to rebuild.” Yes, many do, but insurance can’t replace memories or fix emotional devastation! And many times, it doesn’t even cover the enormous costs of physical injury. The nightmares will be with them for years, even with counseling, so spare a thought for their suffering, please. I wish I had the power to hold back the flames so all living creatures could escape. Yet I can do nothing except pray repeatedly, trying to hold down my own terror.
My own emergency kit is by the front door, ready to grab, yet there are few viable escape routes in a mandatory widespread evacuation. You cannot put tens of thousands of extra vehicles on the road in a metropolitan area, let alone evacuate two million people from an urban valley. Courtesy here is in short supply under normal circumstances. The freeways will be literal parking lots of panic-stricken drivers.
We can never truly thank our frontline firefighters, fixed-wing and rotary-wing crews who make water and Phos-Chek® drops, bulldozer operators, and inmate volunteer labor crews for cutting and digging firelines with machetes, axes, and shovels, and everything else each one of them does to protect us. Nor can we sufficiently thank the hundreds of peace officers who help with the evacuations, and patrol burned out neighborhoods looking for survivors who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave, and arresting callous looters. But gratitude is a good place to start!