Oy, you guys. I don't know about you, but it's been a very, very rough week for many of my friends and loved ones for many reasons, chief (but not solely) among them natural disasters. I've heard from MySpace friends who've lost homes or suffered property damage in tornadoes and floods—but thankfully they're safe. Large wildfires are burning all over California, including in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains, in Monterey, and in Butte County, about three, four hours north of here. My sister and her family and pets have been evacuated from her home along with thousands of other people as a result of the huge Humboldt Fire in Northern California, which has consumed 20,000 + acres and up to 40 homes at this point—they still haven’t been able to make an accurate assessment of how many structures have burned. 1500 firefighters from all over California are on the scene, on the ground and in the air. I'm staying glued to the web, radio and news reports—cell phone reception is pretty spotty, and it’s hard to get current news about it here in the Bay Area, as it’s not really local news and the Santa Cruz fire was an immediate and grave concern, but they are covering it. I found a radio station online that's reporting on it regularly—apparently it's an outrageously difficult fire to battle, because of the terrain (hilly), the heat (100 degrees) and the winds. They’re beautifully taking care of each other up there, with businesses and schools opening doors, donating cots and food and supplies and showers to evacuees, but as you can imagine, or as you know if you’ve ever gone through anything like this, it’s surreal. So we just wait, and pray for calmer winds and more humidity, for strength for all those amazing, brilliant, firefighters pouring in from all over the state, and for safety for everyone affected. When you’re packing up your car to evacuate your home and family, you very quickly realize what matters. One guy evacuated as a result of the fires grabbed his dog, a few personal papers, and told a reporter, “everything else is just stuff.”
I know for some of you guys tornadoes and hurricanes are seasonal concerns, so doubtless you have a good sense for what you’d take with you if you have to leave your home behind. In California, we’re mostly spared that sort of thing, though floods and fires are seasonal facts of life depending upon where you live in the state. And we get major quakes, but we don’t have an earthquake season, per se. The unpredictability of earthquakes adds a bit of, shall we say, piquancy to the thrill of living in the Bay Area. But I do have an earthquake kit I keep packed. It’s pretty light. I know where to grab my valuables (one of which is a fat orange cat, and most of which are mostly valuable only to me), and there are really only a few of those things, too. And there was a teeny little earthquake in the East Bay this morning. A nice little nudging reminder to make sure the batteries in my portable radio are still live and that I have extra batteries, some canned goods stocked, etc. We do get mondo quakes here in the Bay Area, as I’m sure you all know, and I was here for the terrible ’89 quake that broke the upper deck of the Bay Bridge and burned down a good portion of the Marina district in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area. Other parts of the world are still dealing with the unthinkable aftermath of their own quakes.
In short: Oh, man. Lots of people needing our love and support and prayers this week. J Send prayers and good thoughts if you can, check the batteries in your portable radios, and here’s to a safe and peaceful weekend for us all. J