Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bigger by the Minute

The latest feed from the Union-Trib is that over 500,000 people in San Diego County are under mandatory evacuation orders.

I'm home today. All non-essential personnel were sent home from my office. About half of my co-workers are either under evacuation orders or getting ready to evacuate. People are being asked to stay off the freeways, not use their cell phones, and reduce all extra power usage.

The Harris fire is moving west and north, leaving the more sparsely populated border region for some dense middle class suburban areas at the edge of San Diego proper. The Witch fire is snaking around the upper class suburbs north of San Diego, also getting pushed north and west by the winds.

There is not a hotel room to be had between the Mexican border and Irvine, up in Orange County. The evacuation centers are filling and a number are full. While most people will be able to return to their homes eventually, it is going to be days at best before the burn areas are safe. Hundreds of residences have been destroyed.

State, regional, county and municipal officials have been working diligently for years to be ready for catastrophic fire events, and their planning is paying off. The reverse 911 calling (where 911 calls you to warn you of trouble) was something my company helped implement and is being widely credited with getting people out of fire zones in a timely manner. Local shelter locations have been scoped out for some time. We're having a few issues with food and bedding at the locations.


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