The California fires

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's been a crazy couple of days out here in Southern California. There have been (and still are) fires burning across much of Southern California. There are several people injured, a few that were killed, many acres burned, and many houses destroyed.

My family and I were some of the 500,000 + people that were evacuated. We actually left before we were asked to. My wife and I had been talking last week about what we would do in the event of wildfires, and we stuck to our plan. We put the kids, the dog, some paperwork, and some hard drives in the van and took off.

We left our home around 11PM on Sunday. We drove to Mira Mesa high school and stopped there. My wife and kids slept while I stayed awake, listening to the radio news reports and watching the large flag in the parking lot to get an idea of wind speed and direction. The shelter filled up fast. My family stayed in the van so that others could have the cots and such in the shelter (the gym of the high school). I did go in to the school from time to time to find out what was going on from some of the workers there as well as grab some coffee from the Red Cross.

We left the shelter parking lot at around 4AM. We made a brief stop in Sorrento Valley so I could check online to see where the fires were and how widespread they had become. Most of the sites from the local news stations were down or had not been updated since midnight. I drove to the beach, figuring we would only have to worry about fire from one side then. We headed north on the Pacific Coast Highway and then on the 5 North until we got to an area where the air quality was better.

We saw some more smoke up ahead, farther up the 5, but it was far enough away that we felt like we were safe. We found a hotel just north of San Juan Capistrano. I was beat by the time we checked in and got everyone in an unpacked.

After nearly a week of watching the news and not knowing what was going on at our home, we finally got back today. The Rancho Bernardo area lost several homes, and there were two people found burned to death in Poway. There was no fire damage in our neighborhood, and only some signs of strong winds at my house.

We lucked out, but there are many people in the greater San Diego and Southern California area who didn't do too well. If you would like to help, money seems to be the best thing you can donate at this time.

Here are some ways you can help.

Here is how YOU can be ready for an emergency

The next few days will be interesting. Just because the fires are out (or close to being out) doesn't mean the crisis is over. There are many families with no place to go, and nothing but the clothes on their backs. The clean up and rebuilding efforts will continue for months. The investigation and search for the arsonists who started some of the fires that started when the blazes began will continue until the crimes are solved.

On an animation note, the Walt Disney Company pledged Wednesday to contribute $2 million to restore burned areas and help victims of the Southern California wildfires. It is going to be quite some time until the area returns to some semblance of normal, but with the nation's help, we can get there faster.

Best of luck to anyone affected by the fires.

The Happy Pumpkin

Monday, October 08, 2007

Here's a quick Halloween greeting cartoon we made. Enjoy!