I am a "refugee" from Paradise, California who lost my house in the Camp Fire. Now I live in Sutherlin.

I applaud Todd Vaughn's letter, "Wildfires and Swiss Cheese," and I don't need to elaborate here upon his accurate conclusions. Rather, I intend to stress the need for government officials to focus on the immediate needs of its citizens that a disaster will require from them within hours of the event occurring.

Paradise, and Butte County emergency services, were overwhelmed by that fire, which is not to say that they were incompetent or ill prepared. They weren't. Our community was aware of, and practiced fire evacuation frequently. That is to say that Paradise routinely sent telephone notifications about fire drills, which the population ignored much to their dismay...

The problem was that fire destroyed the telephone lines that provided the residents of evacuation notifications, and they were without official information of a fire racing 60 miles per hour that consumed the 10 square mile town within five hours!

Videos can't recreate the confusion or panic that fire caused. During my escape I saw one cop standing in an intersection in smoke as dark as midnight attempting to direct frantic drivers merging in traffic in an effort to protect and serve. He was the only governmental person I saw for days afterwards, since their homes burned too and they became evacuees themselves.

In any calamity, government will be immediately pressed to provide services that involve community evacuation, emergency shelter(s), available housing thereafter, schools evacuation, animal shelter(s), social services, care for evacuated convalescent and local hospital patients, cell phone outages, public information, coordination with state emergency services and continuing to provide governmental services to unaffected residents.

Much of this hadn't been considered before the Camp Fire. There is much to be done to be effective and resourceful.

Wayne Medley


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