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Showing posts from September, 2020

Yet Again, NorCal Residents Flee Wildfires in Panic, with No Warning or Time To Save Valuables; Yet Again, Something's Not Right

  The news out of California this morning is all about wildfires. Several erupted over the weekend, as covered by the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle . The photo was taken early today in Santa Rosa, CA.  An NPR newscast this morning carried an interview with a Santa Rosa resident whose voice communicated the panic she felt when forced to flee with no warning.  It will take time to evaluate what went wrong with the warning process, once again. "Blame," and that's what it should be called, may spread over to residents, and it will take time to know why some residents were outside the warning bubble. But blaming victims is never correct. If blame needs spreading, it must cover those whose warning systems fail to alert residents early enough to allow a less-than-panicked exodus. Old School Solutions Air raid sirens in the middle of the night wake people up. Emergency vehicles with European-style high-low sirens can do that, too (some California communities have in

Fixing California’s Wildfire Alert Failures Requires a New Way of Thinking, of Taking Action, of Shouldering Personal Responsibility To Save Lives

  California's 2020 wildfire report likely will include scores of deaths before the last of the fires adds its acreage and fatality numbers to the total. Since 2017, the death toll from wildfires is above 150, and the state’s historical fire season still has weeks to go as the calendar turns to Fall.   CHORE insists that  many – maybe most – of those deaths could have been avoided if warnings had been easily accessible by the victims. Numerous media reports beginning with the Tubbs Fire in 2017 carried accounts of survivors’ angry assertions they received no warning.   “Received” is the action word in that sentence. It’s not enough to simply transmit warnings; they must be  received  to be effective.   Too many officials – from warning protocol planners at the State level to county sheriffs – are not committed to ensuring the public  receives  their alerts. If they were so committed, survivors would not complain of warning failures.   A New Way of Thinking   And that’s where a mind

At What Point Do We Begin Holding Officials Responsible for Wildfire Deaths when They Clearly Fail To Learn from Previous Warning Failures?

 Northern California wildfires raged on during the September 12-13 weekend, and newspapers duly reported on more warning failures: San Francisco Chronicle: “Wildfire warning systems by text, email, cell phone alert or reverse 911 call can’t always reach everyone in remote areas where coverage isn’t available, or when power or service cuts off. And sometimes, as happened in this season’s lightning-sparked blazes, the system can’t keep up with the speed and unpredictability of wildfires. Officials with Cal Fire confirmed that there was no evacuation warning for Last Chance, and that the evacuation order came just after 10 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies had no time to go door to door.” Let that last bit sink in: “Sheriff’s deputies had no time to go door to door. ” Is that really  the alert protocol when cell phone notifications fail? Deputies go door to door? San Francisco Chronicle: As soon as Cal Fire sent word of the imminent danger, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea sent out an evacuation war