I try really hard not to use social media for political statements. I figure folks get enough of that elsewhere, regardless of their political stance. When I do engage with people with different political opinions than mine, I do not belittle their ideas. I try to understand their perspectives. I find President Trump to be a disgusting opportunist and a threat to my freedoms and the safety of everyone globally. He is not, however, the only member of that club. Still, I have many friends and some family members who disagree with my opinions regarding the president and I cherish their love and friendship… and occasionally I even change my opinion on issues when I listen to a thoughtful discussion.
Perhaps the most difficult issue for me to understand is the idea that Global Warming is not a major threat to life on Earth. While I was still dizzy from the trauma of losing our home, jobs, and our way of life from the fire in Paradise,California, it felt like a gut punch when Trump visited the disaster saying we needed to rake up our leaves and then he followed up with a threat to withhold federal aid to the survivors of that catastrophe. The lack of logic in the first statement just plain makes it not worth debating, for me anyway. Our region had suffered through a long drought; Our utility company chose to put off years of infrastructure maintenance in order to show a stronger balance sheet; Our weather patterns had changed and strong winds came before the typical wet weather patterns arrived.
Now Australia. Listening to the news reports and looking at the videos is heartbreaking. I read somewhere that Nicole Kidman cried on some red carpet reception line when she found out her family had lost their house. Also, Russell Crowe just made a statement on the Golden Globes this evening while staying in Australia trying to protect his home and family. Now I ain’t got shit in common with Ms. Kidman or Mr. Crowe but this one thing – I am a human being living in this world. Because of that, I know exactly the pain of Ms. Kidman, the anxiety of Mr. Crowe and I pray for them both and all of Australia.
Who I am really concerned about are our children. I am 66 years old. My exposure to environmental disaster is limited, but a 3 year old today may see and experience environmental tragedy beyond imagination. Am I exaggerating? As part of a discussion group on Facebook this evening, I read this account (below) of what a father and his two children went through when the fire came to our community a little over a year ago. There are many similar stories from that fire. I am certain children in Australia have or will soon have their own childhood nightmare. This cannot continue to be our children’s experiences.
When we were told to evacuate Christy had the car and was out of town. I have a 3 year old and a 4 year old daughter and they both require child safety seats.. Our house was located on Pentz road which at that time was a evacuation route that only takes about 12 minutes to get you down the mountain to safety. I stood on Pentz with my two daughters and attempted to hitch hike a ride and watched in horror and disbelief as cars refused to stop for 15 seconds and pick us up as they drove to safety. Most of the vehicles only had one driver and no occupants and plenty of room. Finally a woman was on my street checking on her friend saw what was happening and immediately picked us up but a minute before they closed down Pentz as an evacuation route. They instead re-routed us on a road which quickly turned out to be a death trap. Total suicide in a more dense forrest. The road was very narrow and the heart or eye of the fire was headed right at it stronger than ever. People were directed down Pearson road only to find it was a parking lot that wasn’t moving surrounded by fire and smoke so thick and dark you could not see the sun. It was like midnight with no moon or stars shining. People behind us blocked anyone from backing up.. People panicked and some got out of their cars and attempted to make a run for it. Many didn’t make it very far because of the high heat and smoke inhalation and their clothes were catching on fire. Those abandoned cars effectively blocked the road and people just 50 feet behind them had no idea and were sitting ducks.
The woman that picked us up saved our lives. None of us should be here right now. We were totally engulfed in flames and both the woman and I were on our cell phones saying goodbye to people. It was about 150 degrees in the cab and my kids were screaming. I covered them with my jacket and knew it would be all over in less than a minute. By the grace of god the car in front of us moved forward about 30 feet and we quickly moved forward enough to get out of the fireball. I got out to make sure our truck was not on fire. On the left side I saw about a dozen bodies. Some holding their pets. The problem is my 4 year old daughter witnessed exactly what I saw. We are alive but my daughter is having some terrible nightmares. I have had a child psychologist keeping close tabs on her. When I get the time I will seek help myself. I have never experienced anything so horrible in my entire life. It has had a very profound effect on my life. Losing my home and everything I owned seems so minuscule. I am more than grateful we survived. There was no traffic control, cops, firemen or anything on that road. We were just herded into a huge ceramics kiln to fend for ourselves and most everyone there was not thinking straight at all. Just reacting to the heat, lack of air and their clothes catching on fire. I cannot speak for the rest of Paradise but I can say what I saw where I was at early that morning on Pearson road. I kept wondering where the huge air tankers were. I felt a moment of relief when I heard what sounded like a huge jet somewhere above us so I got out again to look and quickly discovered the sound I was hearing was the fire on steroids.