Governor Jerry Brown has declared not one, but two states of emergency in California. One is for the wildfires that are still raging in Northern California and one is for the lack of vaccines in the deadly Hepatitis A outbreak that began in San Diego.
The wildfires have taken the lives of 40 people and destroyed 5,700 homes and buildings. They have forced the evacuation of 100,000 others. Hundreds of people are still missing and 217,000 acres have been burned. San Diego Free Press published an account of one of the evacuees here.
We walk around in masks, and know what N95 means. We regularly ask if you “saw flames or just smoke.” We gather in parking lots to watch our hillside, discuss “back fire,” and argue over white vs. black smoke. We end conversations with strangers with “Be Safe.”
Vice President Pence was on a fundraising tour in California last week and was briefed by firefighters on his way to Santa Ana. Pence said The Right Things™ to the people of California. Trump also issued statements and promised federal assistance. But this is an administration remarkably devoid of empathy for people who are suffering.
Trump has not visited California since he was elected to office and it is easy to suspect why. Our latter day Nero spent another weekend playing golf while the fires continued in Northern California (and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands continue to be hampered by an ineffectual federal response).
One part of our federal government –the Post Office–continues to function in areas destroyed by the wildfires. The following video has an eerie post apocalyptic quality, with a familiar postal vehicle slowly driving past homes burned to their unrecognizable foundations, stopping at the few mail boxes that remain to make a delivery.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Fire does not stay those couriers either.
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