Dorothy, You’re Not in Kansas Any More!

Betty Brandon

The sign at the bottom of my daughter’s less than 3 block street, Heavenly Valley Road, seems a little scary; but signs exactly like this are every where.small-fire-danger-sign.jpg

I feel like I am reading the Miami Herald. The local newspaper lists numerous locations for people to go to shelters, lists shelters where pets can be taken, and begs people to evacuate immediately when told, as being rescued later may be impossible and most certainly wastes valuable resources. There is a published list of which schools are closed as well as which roads are totally closed and which big events are cancelled. There are pictures of cars crushed by fallen trees from wind and pictures of trees stripped of their fruit due to the wind (mostly avocados and lemons). Outside the streets and lawns are littered with leaves, debris and mostly small branches. When I took my grandchildren to school yesterday traffic was a mess because of some downed power lines; therefore street lights not working. Does this all sound familiar? I thought so!

But I’m not in Miami. There are no hurricanes here. I’m in Thousand Oaks, in southern Ventura County California, north west of Los Angeles. Huge fires are everywhere but worse a little south of here. Each fire seems to have its own name – apparently based on where the fire started. As of this evening the news states that over 550,000 people have had to be evacuated; and evacuations continue at present – a totally unprecedented number. Thousands of houses have burned to nothing but ash. The Santa Ana Winds have been blowing. An article written by John Schelbe in the Ventura County Star Newspaper quotes Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena as stating “Santa Anas come in four sizes, small, medium, large and Godzilla. This one is definitely a Godzilla.” Wind speeds were 80 to 90 mph most of yesterday and reached 111 mph at times south of where I am. These are not winds for a couple of hours, but rather are continuous. Apparently there have not been Santa Anas this strong since the 1970s.My daughter had an invitation for a free screening two days ago for a great movie not yet released, “Inkheart”. I took my grandchildren (free movie, $26 for drinks and popcorn). When we left the house, it was a bit windy but still nice outside. When we left the theater the winds were blowing very strongly; and the smell of smoke was nearly suffocating. The smoke stung our eyes while small bits of ash and debris stung our faces. The sky was dark; but it was only 4:30 PM. The wind started on Sunday. Monday the smoke in the air was extremely heavy; but my grandchildren still had school, even though they were not allowed outside the buildings for any activities during the day. Many teachers called in due to evacuations. I understand some of the teachers have lost houses. This is Tuesday evening, October 23. Winds here are now relatively calm. Fires are still raging, especially farther south, and especially near San Diego where there is actually a “fire tornado”. First picture below is the dry hillside at bottom of my daughter’s street. Second picture is looking up the same street toward the hills. Brown spec left middle is actually huge water tanks, always kept filled for fire fighters. Her house is about 3/4 the way up. I must have had my camera at a weird angle because it doesn’t look like much of an incline; but it really is. hillside-pixer.jpgdry-mountains-pixer.jpgWe may get hurricanes; but I’m still glad I live in Miami!

Authored by Betty Brandon | Print This Post | 1,743 Comments » »

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