Digging Through the Ashes, Searching For the New Normal

It’s now been a week since the fires began in San Diego City and County. Most of the fires are either out or will be soon. In the good news department, it appears all of my patients are back in their homes; the exception is the patient who lost his home but his family was able to move him to a new location where he can receive the care he needs. Two of my teammates were in danger of losing their houses; one is back and safe in her home while the other is still evacuated but her home is still intact.

The toll this week has exacted on all of us will take much longer to determine. The latest information tells us that 1,589 homes have been lost and they are in for a long process of rebuilding. But thousands were also evacuated and spent hours and days unsure if they had a house to go back to. The difficulty is that the first week brings a plethora of attention but the body reacts with a plethora of adrenaline; we’ve been flooded by stories of people who have lost everything and are cheered for their “positive attitude.” My prayer is that if their attitude has taken a few hits in the next few months, they will have resources they need (emotional and spiritual as well as financial).

By and large the politicians did well this week, but it wouldn’t be politics without some boneheaded moves. I’ve collected two:

  • On Wednesday our City Attorney Mike Aguirre suggested that all 1,000,000 residents of San Diego evacuate because of poor air quality. He gave no suggestions on how to evacuate, where to evacuate to, or how to determine the air was once again safe. In fairness he hasn’t been in the way as much as usual, but Mike wouldn’t be Mike if he didn’t have something stupid to say.
  • FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, held a press conference on Tuesday to give out information on how the Agency is responding to the fires. Normal press sources were given 15 minutes notice of the press conference to ensure they wouldn’t show up. The could call in and listen to the press conference but they could not ask questions. If the questions asked of Deputy Director Harvey E. Johnson appeared to be softballs, there was a reason: the “reporters” were actually FEMA employees who were instructed to ask easy questions. You have to give credit to Harvey though: he later admitted this fraud was “an error of judgment” but that the information given was correct. I guess that makes it OK.

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