Wednesday, November 26, 2008

stay tuned

By Guy McCarthy

Even if no more heavy rain falls on burned areas, no more wind blows, and nothing else burns for the next year, nature reminded a region who's in charge over the past two and a half weeks.

While many residents in Yorba Linda remain under voluntary evacuation status this evening in the event heavy rains return overnight, a quick recap may be in order before Thanksgiving arrives.

Just two weeks ago, the weather was switching rapidly - from a powerful cold front that contributed to at least eight deaths in San Bernardino County to severe fire weather that helped destroy or damage close to one thousand homes from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles and the Santa Ana River.

Now we have rain when we need it, but it still seems like a curse for those who live in and below the watersheds scorched by fires so far this season.

Whether Yorba Linda and Orange County officials over-compensated for the post-fire erosion threat in the past few days - after firestorms exposed shortcomings in land use planning, emergency response and communications - is irrelevant.

The fact remains that obvious, foreseeable elements like wind, fire and rain again showed how dominant nature can be, and how limited even the nation's best-coordinated local, state and federal agencies are when the real deal goes down.

No matter how many volunteers, firefighters, police officers, pilots and utility workers we organize against fires and floods - there is nothing anyone can do if the winds blow hard enough or if the rains keep coming - except get out of the way.

In the meantime, perhaps everyone needs a break. The weather forecasters, who have been fairly reliable over the past two and half weeks, say we're going to get one.

But keep at least one eye wary.


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