Oct 24, 2007

Katrina It Ain't


Maybe we've learned lessons from Katrina. The LA Times praised Qualcomm stadium as "a relief center to behold." Cots, games, free coffee from Starbucks, ethnic foods, and jazz bands. The number of volunteers rivaled the number of refugees. Neighborhoods reconstructed themselves. Good. I need to focus on the good.

I need to check out the photo galleries, the faces of the people who've lost everything. Well OK, there's an aerial shot of a burned down mansion with a six car garage. They have other houses I'm sure. But I need to keep my mind on people when I pray.

Because my cynicism kicks in. Some areas hardest hit by the fires ... Poway, Rancho Bernardo, are where the mansions are. Are they receiving this treatment because of their wealth? PS: Please read comments from aazmom at the end of this post. She's in northeast end of San Diego on the front lines and her observations are worth noting!

A fellow Burnside blogger posted a link to a Mike Davis' book Ecology of Fear, to the chapter, "Let Malibu Burn." Davis exposes the disparity between how the rich and poor are treated. Worse, the way LA leadership caters to developers and landlords at the expense of the poor.

My friends have a ranch about 25 miles northeast of Castaic (site of the northernmost LA county fire this week). It looks north to the Tehachapis, and down into the southernmost tip of the Antelope Valley. It’s rustic. No DSL. A computer modem can't go faster than 24K on dialup. But they bought it for that purpose: to get away from the speed an insanity of urban life. To them, quiet is beautiful.

They nearly lost the ranch a few years ago to wildfire. They were lucky. But it's sub-desert. It's risky country.

Land developers don’t view it the same way. They’re trying to convince the locals that a self-contained town would do well down in that empty unused valley space. They come in, build some houses and a mall, and Bob's Your Uncle, you're set. Think of the revenue, the jobs, the consumers ... think of the Starbucks! My friends have gone to the town meetings, bringing fears about the lack of water, the fire danger, and the noise pollution. But the developers talk louder about revenue. Maybe the fires will convince neighbors to vote against building. But they already voted in a Dick Cheney style Hunt club.

I hope to get back to their ranch. After the fires die down, before the snow. And before the developers bring their back hoes and destroy that valley's greatest resource: Silence.

2 comments:

aazmom said...

I have been agonizing over this disparity of compassion/coverage this week. I live in Borrego Springs, a small desert community on the very northeastern edge of San Diego County. Since Sunday night we have had evacuees in our town, and expect to have at least a few families with us until Wednesday or maybe even longer. Our town of 3,000 has hosted almost 700 registered evacuees. It has been a week of astoundingly tangible grace shown by the townspeople. But the communities first evacuated, and the people still with us, are from impoverished parts of San Diego's back county - mostly reservations. While our "local" news stations show weepy millionaires embracing the President (and actually the Jeffcoats are friends of my husband) amidst the ashes of their McMansion, we are wiping urine from the floor around the beds of the nursing home residents, currently housed in our school gym. Destitute elderly that the system has clearly abandoned years ago just don't make for good photo ops.

thanks for the vent. it's been a hard long week.

aazmom said...

hola,

just returned from a worship service where my commitment to the care of the earth was challenged, with about 6 scripture references and quoting an evangelical who repented of his non-stewardship...i love a challenging sermon!

going to rest a bit here at home then head over to help out at the evac site, but i saw your comment on your blog refernceing my comment and wanted to clarify:

we are located on the eastern edge of san diego county. evacuees weren't sent here b/c they are poor. they were sent here b/c of the logistics: they could not go westward, and we are simply much much closer than qualcom or any other red cross evac site. there were a lot of evacuees in our town that had money. most of them stayed at the local resorts and hotels. most of the people who stayed and are staying at our school/evac site are poverty-stricken people, i assume from their clothes and vehicles and dental issues. i don't mean to be callous or whatever, i am just trying to explain my perceptions.

one of my friends who evacuated eastward out here stayed at a resort that cost $350 a night (two nights) with her cat that had just undergone extensive and expensive medical care the week before. and over at the evac site we are chasing chickens through the parking lot and giving out underwear to desperate mothers.

you don't need to print this comment, ms. isaacs. i just wanted to clarify the whole geography thing. it truly is coincidental that a lot of people who chose to live in east county are impoverished, and east county evacuated eastward.

yours, aazmom

ps - our church housed four groups of evacuees - rock on! :-)

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