Don't make that comparison

A couple things this morning:

1) If you’re from the Midwest and want a good laugh, read this New York Times article.
2) Red Sox!
3) Do NOT compare the wildfires with Hurricane Katrina.
4) Red Sox!
5) The fog rolled in last night.

Fog is good. The marine layer crept inland from the ocean last night and was lingering over Huntington Beach when I left for work. It’s a great sign, especially for firefighting efforts. Morning fog means the winds have shifted and are now moving east from the ocean, instead of west from the deserts and canyons during Santa Ana conditions. The shift has happened gradually over the past few days, and last night I walked outside and my nose wasn’t filled with that mystical campfire smell. The air did have a mesquite scent this morning, and I suppose it’s because some of the smoke blown to sea was pushed back in with the changing wind. (Old Smucker’s theme/MST3K quote goes here.)

I’ll leave my talk about the Red Sox and World Series for another post. There’s another important matter beginning to stink up the media here in the Southland, and it’s starting to spread across the nation. A few people have had the audacity to compare the wildfire relief efforts and evacuations to those of Hurricane Katrina. I knew it would happen, and I knew a debate would emerge and a Republicrat line would be drawn in the sand (one side Democrats, one side Republicans).

I’m not getting into what people are saying, but Steve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has. His column this morning is woven with his opinionated yearn (he’s a columnist, and you gotta love that), but I think he does a good job summarizing both sides of the issue and presenting facts neither camp will dispute (though, I might be a little too optimistic there — Republicrats think they can do no wrong).

Now, I don’t want to play this off like I have no opinion (as if you couldn’t tell by my list). The comparisons are stupid, if you ask me. Both disasters have affected millions of people, but that’s where the likeness ends. Hurricane Katrina and the current wildfires are completely separate situations, taking part in different regions and affecting dissimilar groups of Americans. If anyone believes the two disasters are on par with one another, and can rightfully be compared, they need to think back on the conditions inside the Superdome after the storm (dead bodies hidden away into corners for days, no food or water, trash piled in the hallways, toilets backed up and overflowing) as they take a look at what evacuees at Qualcomm Stadium have experienced (“…Qualcomm has been like a street fair — with bountiful food, and even massages, acupuncture and yoga on offer” wrote a columnist).

One major discrepancy is between those who have lost and suffered. Katrina changed the lives of thousands of poor, inner city blacks, especially in New Orleans, who may never be able to regain what they lost. The wildfires have damaged and destroyed homes in affluent, white, suburban neighborhoods. Rancho Bernardo is no Lower Ninth Ward.

New Orleans was crippled after the hurricane. Very few services and support personnel could make their way into the city for days. The convoy of buses intended to evacuate those stranded downtown were unable to make it into the city center due to the serve flooding. Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and every community affected by wildfires this week were easily accessible to emergency crews as they shifted priorities and moved men and equipment to different fires. Evacuees were able to leave their homes and travel freely to find refuge with family or at various makeshift shelters and camps, like Qualcomm. The closures to major freeways and roads have been minimal. The PCH through Malibu was closed for days, but a major artery like Interstate 5 was only off limits on Tuesday. The constant flow of food and services has been uninterrupted.

Besides the other discrepancies, making a justifiable comparison iniquitous, you have to realize we’re talking about two different facets of Mother Nature. Fire and water are very different forces, though can be equally destructive. Fire can be battled and stopped, while rain, floods, and hurricane storm surges, while predictable, are relentless and inexorable.

Do NOT make the comparison.

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