Lost lives, pets, homes and property all part of the tremendous personal cost of the latest California wildfires. This has been the worst year for wildfires in California history. Now the survivors face the devastation, cleanup and confusion bordering on a “state of shock”.
At present the number of those who are still considered missing from the continuing California wildfires in both the Los Angeles area and in the Camp Fire area has been reduced from earlier estimated as has the death-toll.
We know that for everyone involved from fire fighters to friends and family of those who've died or who are still missing and almost all survivors are still suffering in some way. The fires are contained but have left tremendous damage behind.
Imagine being at these scenes with people surrounded by walls of flame everywhere devouring homes, cars, just about everything all around. For weeks there hasn't been relief from this nightmare till now. Then the situation for firefighters continuing their work returning to these fires every day has been exhausting, dangerous and terrible for their health.
With all the wildfires in California in 2018 the estimates of damage still vary. In California alone, this past year there were over 6,228 wildfires burning.
Over 85 fatalities which has fluctuated from up to 91 and back down again.
Nearly 20,000 structures destroyed with most home contents wiped out.
1,890,438 acres destroyed.
The financial cost of these fires may rise above $3.5 billion dollars which includes nearly half that amount in fire suppression and later flooding costs.
Farmers alone are expecting $2.1 billion claims from the wildfires
There also all those losses in personal property, record/paperwork, and daily necessities which will take months to deal with. Thousands of people will have lost nearly everything they had.
Some have suggested that forest management has not been working hard and smart enough to keep towns and residents safe, there are other reasons. Fire department leaders have described the problem as the encroaching “urbanization” of the nearby areas up to and into the forests. Also there were thousands of dead trees in the wildfire areas.
As everyone would like natural surroundings with lots of trees, things have gotten crowded around the shrinking woodlands.
It is common knowledge that these types of fires are most likely caused by human activity either accidental or intentional which are then magnified and intensified by weather conditions which can be attributed to changes in climate we've seen around the world. Then with the occasional acts of vandalism and negligence it's amazing these wildfires aren't more common. They are getting worse
When you consider the combination of these human factors in the setting of fires each year with the increase of human density of residential areas, there are bound to be greater wildfire dangers increasing in the future with the added heat, strong Santa Ana wind and drought.
“WE WEREN'T TOLD IN TIME!”
Then there is the problem of adequate notifications. Residents often see and hear about smaller fires all the time and they become jaded. Other people were frustrated about not getting timely warning of these incredibly fast moving fires.
Confusion about the level of urgency sets in with the many fire disaster warnings that have gone out in recent years. Part of that confusion has to do with all the different methods of warning including text messaging, email, social media, reverse 911 notifications, cell phones with different carriers, operating systems and upgrades, land lines, as well as all the new and old versions of TV, cable, streaming and radio. There's no one system that everyone knows and understands. Then there's shortwave, police band, or CB radios which can be lifesavers for those few who know how to use them.
Other complicating factors have been the large number of Seniors in these fire prone areas. Many seniors have mobility issues which in the very least tend to slow everything down. The combination of health complications, hearing and vision problems, plus the multiple medications many seniors need also cause increased confusion and then panic as their slower pace reduces their already short escape time.
There have been many nightmarish stories, photos and videos of those unable to escape the fires in their cars. People were driving through the flames! Many died in their cars, incinerated.
Roads became jammed as the fires quickly approached. This led to worse traffic blockage as many residents abandoned their cars to take off on foot running along the narrow mountain roads with children, pets and whatever they could carry out. Some may not have made it to safety.
There's a good chance the future will be a repeat of this year's wildfire disasters. In that case it is important that reconstruction be done in a way that permits easier exit in wildfires and careful consideration of the location of homes in high wind drought areas.
The size, frequency and number of the weather and climate disasters has been increasing so there's reason to expect at least more of the same each year. Rebuilding and returning to false sense of security needs an update. As with all potential disasters such as wildfires or hurricanes, FEMA and Red Cross have information about preparedness for yourself and your family and communities in wildfire prone areas
PLANS FOR EVACUATION
10 days’ worth Supplies to have on hand.
Having a go to shelter.
Preparedness for elderly and those with disabilities.
Financial Preparedness including duplicate paperwork for
AWARENESS OF RAPID CHANGES
Just as with the dangers of hurricanes for the East and Gulf coast areas of the U.S. The climate is forcing us to be better prepared for quick moving and changing weather disasters.
The preparations and precautions include:
Familiarity with wildfire risks locally.
Learn home fire prevention techniques.
Availability of water in pond or other sources with pumps
Grounds tools such as rakes, shovels and other tools.
Clean grounds and roof of leaves and branches.
Have an exit strategy both in the home and out to safety.
Set up a meeting place and communication plan in the event of wildfire.
Have a friend or relative as contact for your family.
Be ready to leave with supplies and vehicle.
Supplies in a backpack for each person include:
10-day supply of food and water
hand crank radio and flashlight with recyclable batteries
More than one cell phone with chargers
Meds, complete first aid kit, and personal hygiene items
Multi-purpose utility tools
Copies of important docs such as id, med info, home deed
And Banking information
Maps and compass
Proper clothing for both night and day travel.
Have portable radio with local news.
Know shelters and/or friends and family to stay with in an emergency.
Use breathing filters for smoke and or dust.
Do not return home until it is safely and officially ready.
When home check for smoldering and hot items.
Watch and protect children and pets from hidden dangers.
In order to find out more about services available to wildfire survivors please check:
American Red Cross: Shelter and food
California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund: Grants for fire victims
California Fire Foundation: Financial assistance
Enloe Medical Center: Accepting donations for fire victims
Entertainment Industry Foundation: Helps firefighters and other volunteers.
Humane Society of Ventura County: Helps with displaced pets and animals
North Valley Community Foundation: Raises money for fire victims.
Salvation Army: Provides meals and shelter.
Other organizations helping fire victims
• Woolsey fire
Residents looking for information and assistance with
• lost paperwork
• insurance claims
• FEMA assistance,
• Property cleanup, repairs and rebuilding.
• Conrad L. Hilton Foundation, 30440 Agoura Road, Agoura Hills, CA 91362
Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265
Another center is in Thousand Oaks.
at the Thousand Oaks Grant R. Brimhall Library, 1401 E. Janss Road.
Are Americans Unfit for Survival?
largely because of sedentary living. they're overweight to the point of obesity and large numbers of them are technically obese. These young people are so out of shape that the military feels it would be either too difficult or impossible to work these applicants into shape in any reasonable amount of time.