Vol. 12, No. 5 – Dec 5 – Dec 18, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

•It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the fire raged through Ventura. From a previous news article; “On December 4, 2017 a fastmoving active brush fire that started North of Santa Paula along Highway 150 and Bridge Road was pushed by strong east winds through the City of Ventura. The Thomas Fire burned 281,893 acres and was 100% contained on January 12, 2018. 1,063 structures were destroyed and 280 structures were damaged. In the City of Ventura, more than 100 structures have been identified as damaged and more than 500 structures have been identified as being destroyed.”

In this issue we tried to capture the feelings and hopes of those directly, and indirectly, affected by the Thomas Fire. It is amazing to me that there were no deaths in Ventura as a result of the fire. A tribute to our fire and police departments and to Venturan’s who listened and acted in a proper manner when told to evacuate.

I remember the midnight call from my daughter-in-law who said, “We have evacuated and need to stay with you.” When I asked “where are you” she told me “we are in front of your house. We didn’t think about calling you until we arrived here.” I responded, “Give me a few minutes so that I can put some clothes on (you don’t need to picture that).”

Eventually more of our kids and family (unusual that 4 of our 5 kids live locally) ended up at our house. Several stayed for a few days because the electricity was out – we were the Grand Hotel.

Once the family was in the house, my son and I immediately went back to his house on Aliso St. where we proceeded (with a couple of neighbors) to put out fires. Some of which could have been disastrous. During the night several cars stopped to help us – they didn’t live in the neighborhood or know who we were– that night brought out the finest in many Venturans. Mark and I also went back and forth to the house of Diane’s family and put out fires there.

If there was a funny part of this, at about 5am I looked at my son and said, ”You are wearing pajamas and slippers.” Which neither of us were aware of the entire night. He of course quickly changed clothes. And to think that he was stomping out fires wearing his slippers.

I spent the next several days going from fire to fire watching as helpless firefighters had to stand by as homes burned to the ground because there was inadequate water. Why there wasn’t water is still a mystery. The Breeze has not been able to get adequate answers about the water problem and has been told that the city cannot comment because of pending lawsuits. Hopefully this will be resolved before the next fire occurs.

I think one of the other reasons that there were no casualties is because we have an adequate street system. So, although there were challenges in certain areas, evacuees were able to exit without being overrun by the fire.

This, of course, was not the case in the recent Paradise fire that claimed an unknown number of lives. Perhaps areas like Paradise – without adequate streets and ways to exit – shouldn’t be allowed to rebuild until they have proper ways to evacuate.

I believe that our planning department and building & safety division have done a great job of handling hundreds of building plans that have been submitted. More plans then they would typically see over a period of many years. I know some people who lost their homes and they are not happy with the city, but even under “normal” times the permit process can be very daunting.

• Kudos to the Ventura outdoor gear company Patagonia for giving the $10 million it saved from tax cuts to non-profit environmental groups. The donation is in addition to 1% of sales it gives to these groups every year.

•People have recently reported seeing a mountain lion in hillside neighborhoods in Ventura.  The wildfires may have brought the animals into living areas.

Mountain lions tend to be solitary creatures and rarely attack humans. However, don’t try to pet them.

Bring small house pets inside during the evening and early morning hours until further notice.

If you happen to have an encounter with a mountain lion, face the animal, make noise and attempt to look bigger by waving your arms to scare it away. You can’t outrun it.

Reminds me of the old joke. Two friends encounter a mountain lion and one says, “Run like hell.” The other says, ”We can’t out run a lion.” And his friend says, “I just need to outrun you.”

•You might not be able to fit it on your wrist, but physicists have created two clocks that are so accurate they won’t lose time in the next 15 billion years. Obviously, the atomic clock uses an optical lattice composed of laser beams trapping ytterbium atoms. Big deal, will it tell you how far you have walked?

• In a sweeping interview recently published in the Washington Post, President Donald Trump asserted that he had “very high levels of intelligence,” and as such, did not believe in the scientific consensus surrounding climate change. “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,” said Trump. Hmm, what an articulate assessment.

Trump ripped into French President Emmanuel Macron in a series of tweets — hitting him on everything from his low approval ratings, to the French surrender to the Nazis in World War II, and also suggesting U.S. wine is on par with the French product. I finally agree with Trump that our wine is on par with the French, so I guess he really told him. Don’t fool around with the United States. (opinions@venturabreeze.com)

Farmers Insurance has just cancelled my homeowner’s insurance because “The number of losses you have experienced exceeds our acceptability limits.” Claims paid to me; ash clean-up $2,075 and damage to a deck from a tree that fell $12,409. The total was less than $15,000 for a company that has paid out hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who lost their homes. Plus, the tree falling over will never happen again (or perhaps in 40 years when the new one is tall enough). Very shocking to me – why do we have insurance if it can be cancelled whenever the company unilaterally decides (there needs to be some reform with these companies).

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