Saturday, July 01, 2006

Flooded and forgotten

Susan Straight in Salon

"We have no electricity, no water," others told me. "They just opened a store last week in my neighborhood, and a lady was holding a bag of chips and crying. People were just walking around her and nodding, because they understood. We haven't been able to buy food."

That first night, walking the streets and listening to people who found out I was from California and wanted to tell their stories, as if we were in a war zone from which only I would eventually escape, I realized that they felt completely abandoned in a way I can't imagine.

I am from a state where fault lines run everywhere -- where earthquakes have destroyed cities that were then rebuilt, where wildfires obliterate communities nearly every year, where mudslides take out houses in upscale beach towns again and again. In California, people are reimbursed by insurance companies, and then they rebuild in the same places, over and over. La Conchita, buried by mud in a horrific slide in 2004, will see new homes on the same slope. Scripps Ranch and other San Diego neighborhoods erased by wildfires in 2004 have already risen from ash. The Oakland hills, devastated in 1991 by one of America's most costly and destructive fires, are covered with houses again." (read more)


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