Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fortunately, it's no Superdome

I learned an important lesson today: If you have to be in a disaster, do it in California.This was the scene at Qualcomm Stadium, the largest evacuation center for victims of the fires burning in this part of SoCal. Some people have actually compared it to the Louisiana Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

I know what you're thinking: "Are those evacuees getting massages?" Yes, they are.
And this guy is having an acupuncture treatment.
The stadium had the look and feel of a neighborhood festival and business convention expo. There were balloons and food (some evacuees complained that there was too much to eat) and plenty of water and sodas and army cots and newspapers and children's corners and performances by improv theater groups. And, oh, did I mention massages and acupuncture?
These evacuees were checking e-mail on laptop computers and watching a movie on high-definition TV at the AT&T tent. Yes, there were many corporate-sponsored tents lining the walkway around the stadium that normally is home to San Diego's NFL team, the Chargers.
For those who just couldn't bear any more food or drinks or massages or balloons, there was refuge in the stadium's comfy seats that offered views of televisions broadcasting live local news coverage of the fire disaster.

You won't be surprised to learn that I saw no one starving, no one dying without their medication, no guns, no broiling tropical heat, no packed crowds covering ever available square inch of space, no one hopelessly searching for his missing relative. Oh, and the fire wasn't burning all around the stadium.

Qualcomm certainly is no Superdome. And the wildfires are no Katrina.

That's not to say that there isn't plenty of suffering going on here. Thousands of people have lost their homes, businesses and possessions to the infernos. At least one person has lost his life. And it could be months or years before the lives of victims are put back together.

But Qualcomm Stadium has managed to be everything the Superdome wasn't - a refuge, a source of comfort and a ray of hope.
Except for the blue-gray haze and the smell of smoke, it's hard to tell from the center of San Diego that a disaster of near biblical proportions is unfolding only a few miles away.
More than a few people are wearing masks over their mouths and noses to keep from inhaling the particles now filling the air.
That might not be such a bad idea. I woke this morning to find my car covered with a thin layer of ash bits.


Kristina Loewer said...

Hey, Keith.

I'm glad all is well for you there. I'm sure you haven't heard anyone suggest that people should not rebuild the city of San Diego because it could be hit by more fires in the future!! It's amazing the difference in the angle the media is covering this than how they covered Hurricane Katrina. I guess you live and learn.

It was great seeing you guys. Hopefully it won't be a year before we see you again.



Anonymous said...


You of all people should know better than to compare the Superdome refuge of last resort to what's going on at Qualcomm. The difference, as you well know, is that after the storm EVERY piece of critical infrastructure was rendered useless -- cell phones, Internet, roads, drinking water, electricity. I'd like to see if those massage chairs would be there if Qualcomm was facing 100 degree heat with no ac, no working bathrooms, no food and no presence of authority within a 50-mile radius. So, please, drop the ridiculous Katrina comparison. It's embarrassing.

BarefootCajun said...

Wow, anonymous. I believe he said there was NO comparison between the two. But if anyone is qualified to compare, he would be, having lived through both. And next time you get brave enough to post something snarky, why not tell us all who you really are.