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SD Fire Update — Why Now?
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SD Fire Update

The San Diego Union-Tribune late night report: Fire damage severe, but worst may be over

“The worst is behind us,” said Ron Lane, director of the county Emergency Operations, at a news conference featuring Michael Chertoff, chief of federal Homeland Defense. While Chertoff said that he has spoken to President Bush he declined to say when federal assistance would be forthcoming.

“We will review the recommendation for emergency declaration promptly,” Chertoff said. Chertoff said before the feds act on it, “It has to be looked at first. It’s hot off the presses now.”

To which county supervisor Ron Roberts interjected, “We’ll be happy to provide an official county of San Diego pen.”

Of Chertoff’s assurances of aid, Roberts said, “It’s not as good as the check’s in the mail, but almost.”

I hate to tell you this Mr. Roberts but you can expect the delivery of that check to be a bit delayed, as we learned on the Gulf Coast. It might take years to reach you. Just because the fires have been running constantly on the media, they have to find out if there is a problem. You guys might have been Photoshopping hundreds of hours of video, or playing with the kerning on the newspaper articles.

The SD U-T has been providing decent coverage on the ‘Net of the situation. They created a San Diego Wildfires Blog on Blogspot that has been providing near real-time information, and they are constantly updating their Google Maps-based Fire Map, which now includes the structures that burned. They seem to understand how to use the medium to enhance their product and service to their community.


1 hipparchia { 10.24.07 at 1:10 am }

hot off the presses strikes me as an infelicitous wording here.

2 Fallenmonk { 10.24.07 at 6:11 am }

Chertoff and Bush will get their swaggering visit in for TV’s sake and weep a few crocodile tears over some of the homeless and then go back to Washington and write a few more checks for Blackwater and Dynacorp. Mr. Roberts and the affected Californians better start figuring out how to help themselves because once the soundbites and TV posing are done so is Bush’s concern.

3 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 10.24.07 at 9:24 am }

…in many respects this is another Katrina opportunity for FEMA. There’s not so much of that dramatic helicopter rescue stuff, but there may well be tens of thousands of people needing food and shelter and help recovering from the loss of property, not to mention the needs that the infrastructure may have. I’m not optimistic that they’ve learned their lessons…

4 Bryan { 10.24.07 at 1:27 pm }

You were expecting a respect for feelings from the Hedgemony, Hipparchia? 😈

Getting a photo op is a guarantee of no action, based on past performance. This will be on top of the stalling by the insurance companies. The worst isn’t over, as the hurricane survivors have found out.

They are still behind the curve, Jack. We still haven’t increased our wildfire response capabilities to a reasonable level, as you know better than almost anyone else. We don’t have the people or equipment to deal with these things, and we don’t have the mitigation programs in place to reduce the impact.

5 Fallenmonk { 10.24.07 at 6:52 pm }

Something that is not being covered is the fate of undocumented aliens in the area. I have had CNN on while in the hotel room and not one word about all the illegals that were surely in the area and possibly camping or hiding in the hills around San Diego. I am just wondering if this will be a hidden tragedy in all this.

6 Bryan { 10.24.07 at 7:31 pm }

FM, many of them live in the canyons, camping out because they can’t afford housing. The canyons are the natural highways for the fires, so some of them will surely have been killed as the fires raced through driven by the Santa Anas. Many more will have lost their belongings to the fires and they generally hide personal property in the brush.

I would expect this to be case around Fallbrook, where the avocado orchards burned.

7 Badtux { 10.24.07 at 7:31 pm }

Expecting a “Heckuva job, Michael!” any second now…

What, exactly, has DHS done other than show up for photo ops? Curious penguins want to know!

— Badtux the Snarky Penguin

8 Bryan { 10.24.07 at 7:43 pm }

Well, they’ve reminded people of their 1-800 claims number and their Internet site, so if the proper paper work gets filed by the state and local government, people can start filing all of their personal paperwork that requires information that was burned up with their home. Of course there also need to be assessment of the damage by FEMA personnel because video footage on broadcast television can’t be trusted.

FM, the Border Patrol is out looking around in known sites and transporting people out and to hospitals.

9 Cookie Jill { 10.24.07 at 8:04 pm }

I’m sure that other insurance companies will be leaving the State, leaving homeowners high and dry and unable to get coverage.

Allstate doesn’t live up to it’s name. It doesn’t cover homeowner’s insurance in California anymore. Paying out to those affected by fire, earthquakes and floods apparently cuts into the profit margin.

10 Cookie Jill { 10.24.07 at 8:59 pm }

Oh…by the way…look who’s baaaaaack.

Heck of a Job Brownie!


Michael D. Brown, Former FEMA Director and Current Director of Cotton Companies, one of the leading disaster preparedness and restoration organizations in the nation, is available for comment regarding the wild fires that are devastating Southern California.

… Mr. Brown can speak to the turmoil being caused by the California wild fires as well as to some of the new processes in disaster relief efforts that will help to restore California communities. He can offer advice to residents and businesses on proper relief and recovery efforts and provide suggestions for future disaster preparedness.

Buddha help us all.

11 Bryan { 10.24.07 at 9:51 pm }

You have to wonder what the insurance companies are going to do to justify their existence, Jill. They don’t want to cover anyone within 50 miles of the Gulf or Atlantic coasts, and they are pulling out of areas with wildfires.

If they eliminate more than half of the country as clients how are they going to make money? they should be lobbying for infrastructure improvements the same way they lobby for vehicle improvements in the auto industry. They should be raising hell about the failure to clear fuel out of public areas and near structures, the same way they adjust rates for the quality of fire departments and availability of hydrants.

Brownie just refuses to quietly fade away as a bad memory.

12 hipparchia { 10.24.07 at 11:09 pm }

how are they going to make money? by continuing to sell insurance to the people who won’t need to use it and denying the claims of those who do.

13 Bryan { 10.24.07 at 11:15 pm }

Their problem is the climate change is making their assumptions worthless. The weather patterns that would have made that easy are gone and their isn’t enough data to track the patterns.

The market is worthless, the dollar is getting worthless, so investment isn’t the answer. They are on their way out.

14 hipparchia { 10.24.07 at 11:54 pm }

bah. cat with [subpar] tyeping skillz


15 hipparchia { 10.25.07 at 12:11 am }

ok, so now that i finally got the correct link posted [many paws make heavy going]

climate change worries? there was a downtick in profits in 1992 [andrew] and another in 2001 [9/11] but ever since then, they’ve been doing just fine in their assumptions [or in spite of them], thank ye. 2003 [california fires] profits up. 2004 [florida hurricanes] profits up. 2005 [katrina, rita, wilma] profits up. 2006 [freebie] profits up. 2007….

granted, a market tumble will bite them in the pocketbook, but until then, they’re making out like the bandits that they are. not that i wouldn’t like to see them lose their stranglehold on the rest of us, but probably only the entire economy crashing down around our ears will do it. major ouch.

[did i fit enough cliches into that last paragraph?]

16 Bryan { 10.25.07 at 12:34 am }

There’s always room for more metaphors.

After 2001 they started depending more on the re-insurance market and thus limited their company losses, but after 2005 the re-insurance rates skyrocketed. The market rise covered a lot of that, but now they are faced with a blah market and high re-insure rates. The insurance losses in San Diego alone will be over a billion. If they keep denying insurance they will interrupt their income flow and that will cause them problems.

They have been hedging their bets, but there aren’t many takers left.

Like it or not, the government is going to be forced into the insurance business, because the private sector has become very risk adverse – a decidedly uncapitalistic attitude.

17 hipparchia { 10.25.07 at 1:36 am }

if risk aversion were their only problem, they’d widen their pool, not narrow it. what they’ve done is move from playing honest poker in a wild west saloon to running rigged games in a casino. [yeahyeahiknow, there’s probably no such thing as an honest game of poker]

billion schmillion, a mere bagatelle. andrew: $15 billion, 1992 dollars [~$20 billion in 2001 dollars]. 9/11: $40 billion, 2001 dollars. i’m sure there’s a calculator somehwere on the web that will convert it all to 2007 dollars, but they’ll still be big numbers, so i’m not going to go looking for one.

like it or not, we-the-people are going to be forced into the self-insurance business, because the private sector has become infested with robber barons – a decidedly piratical attitude.

18 Bryan { 10.25.07 at 11:08 am }

Hipparchia, widening the pool by selling more policies is what a capitalist does, and these people aren’t capitalists, they are simply greedy plutocrats.

19 hipparchia { 10.25.07 at 6:47 pm }

hmmm, pluto did get demoted recently….

20 Bryan { 10.25.07 at 7:23 pm }

Everyone looks down on Pluto. [cheap classics joke, I know.]