I wanted to update you on a new project I've decided to take on and it has nothing to do with pots, succulents OR financial anxiety. I am teaming up with @socalsteemit to bring you the latest news in Southern California's wildfires. It seems the season has started early this year, so together with @alaqrab and @CSUSBgeochem1 we're going to be posting about the latest and (not so) greatest news and updates, evacuation notices etc.
So you may be asking...why? Well, for me - its a tad more personal that "I want to be a news reporter". I don't. (Although did anyone see that Netflix documentary about guys who photograph for the news? It seemed like a pretty exciting job...). If you're new to my posts - my boyfriend and I just moved to SoCal last year and had our very first evacuation due to the Lilac fire in Fallbrook/Bonsall areas.
I had been on my way home from working on a remote farm without cell service. Coming down off the mountain I spied dark smoke in the distance but didn't really think twice about it. It looked far. Once I reached the bottom and returned to normal cell signal, my phone started blowing up with voicemails, texts, google hangout messages, snapchat whatever. If the app has a messaging service, I got one. They were all from Alfredo, frantically trying to get ahold of me at the farm. I called him back just as I was getting onto the 15 south and I told him I could see the smoke but it didn't look to be a big deal. Because, you know, I'm a fire expert, right? Wrong. As I neared my exit, it looked like I would be driving right into the black smoke cloud.
And then. My worst fear happened. The blocked off the ramp. With me still in it. I do not like to be confined, trapped, stuck or have any sort of feeling like there isn't a way out. Too many subway fights have gotten to me, I guess, LOL. So, I did what any normal, stupid American does in these situations. I took out my cell phone and started recording.
After I made sure to document where I might disappear forever and sent it off to at least two different contacts in two different states, I ventured onto the 76 by foot to ask the cops if I could please just go home. As luck would have it, my gas tank was a hair away from the red E line and on the other side of the barrier and not 100 feet after the blockage was the entrance to a gas station! He said it wasn't safe, and he wanted to keep traffic off of the highway. I calmly explained that I would not be driving into the fire and that I wanted to take the back road behind the gas station because traffic on the highway was completely stopped due to the fires. If I had chanced it, I definitely would have run out of gas. He still said no. So....back to my truck thats parked on the off ramp to wait. Three hours. THREE HOURS!!! With gas just a stone throw away but no actual way to get it in my truck. The gas attendants wanted triple the price for their last gas can, and just on principal I refused. Anyways, eventually the guards blocking the road changed duties and I put on my best "young, innocent" look and walked out to ask again. This guy wasn't as confident and the second he hesitated in saying no, I got my best New Yorker attitude out and just barreled over his protests with why my idea was better. I mean, one less person sitting 500 ft away from the fire is probably a good thing, no? So finally, I get in to get gas and I just smile and plead my whole way out the back road that also turned out to be closed. But at this point, the fire was close to jumping the 76 so I was the least of their concerns. This was also around the time that all the horses were being burned alive at Luis Rey, but I couldn't have known that at the time.
Just as I made it home, they turned our power off. I couldn't even take a hot shower after the day I had. And it remained off for the next three days. Apparently we were on evacuation orders, but after much digging I realized the evacuation centers were being evacuated so we chose to stay put. I wouldn't suggest this to you, but we were going on my landlord's gut. He's lived here over 20 years so I felt safe in knowing that he if left, he'd get us, too. But there was no need to make a situation harder by leaving before we really had to, especially since we had no friends, zero family and not enough knowledge of the area to even know where to go to.
In the end, I packed up a few go-bins and made sure we'd be set for camp life if it came to that. We had both of our vehicles all set to go at a second's notice and slept in the living room so we could have an eye out the big window all night long.
(View from my patio - probably right when we should have been evacuating)
After the second day, it seemed like things had relaxed and they were letting people in and out of the evacuation areas with a valid ID proving your address. So, life resumed with bird baths in a plastic tote and eating out of a cooler. We even went out on that Saturday night to see a friend's reggae band in downtown Fallbrook.
(Patio, next morning)
(Fallbrook is still smoking, but majority of the fires have been contained.)
But see, fire does not take Saturday night off, and it does not heed to where you want it to go. As we returned to the neighborhood, we were met with a brand new blockade and not so friendly cops telling us we cannot drive home. Guys. It was past midnight and my house was still a mile away. They had us park on the side of the road with about 50 other cars and walk the rest of the way. Pitch black too, because there was still no power. Looking back, that was probably the most risk we took all throughout the ordeal. IF, IF, IF the winds were to change overnight and we had to leave we'd first have to walk a mile in the fire to get to a vehicle. And no ability to bring any of our go-bags because there's no vehicle to put them in.
SO, this brings me back to why. There's all the info anyone could need on the Cal Fire report online. But while they're busy fighting the fires, we want to stay connected with the affected. The worst feeling in the whole situation last year was not having anyone to reach out to. Ask questions. Devise a plan. Crash on a couch or share resources.
If you or anyone you know is in need of immediate help due to a fire or other natural disaster here in SoCal, let us know! We'll get the word out and let the wonderful community of Steemit help in any way its members can. As always, your upvotes, SP delegations, resteems etc help us grow and reach more people in need.