In the area around San Diego, an area about twice the size of the city of New Orleans has burned since Sunday.Â But folks there -- even the over 20,000 people evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium -- are partying on, the Washington Post reports:
"Nobody does disasters better than California," said R. David Paulison, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after visiting Qualcomm Stadium with the Republican governor.
While, as the Post recounts, the California evacuees (not refugees, mind you, because these are people with resources) enjoy ice cream and free massages, fresh Starbucks coffee, and are turning away donated pizzas because too much is coming into the stadium in donations.
Â "This is a neighbor-helping-neighbor situation," San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said at Qualcomm, drawing a round of applause from his constituents....George Biagi, deputy press secretary to Sanders, said no visions of New Orleans danced in his head. "That was a whole region," he said. "With this, a lot of people can stay with friends. This is just a part of the city. And neighbors are helping each other out."
There's a profound ignorance of the scale of this issue. New Orleans Parish is 350.2 sq mi. San Diego County is 4199.89 sq. mi.Â Saying that this is "just part of the city" discounts that 1300-1800 homes have been lost over an area many times the size of New Orleans.Â In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina (and human error) devastated about 105,000 buildings.
If you look at this fire map,Â the area represented in square miles of that entire rectangle is just about exactly that of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with Cape Cod cut off to the east.Â Just look at how much is on fire.Â Image that as most all of the Berkshires, down through Springfield.
The comparisons and understanding of folks between this and Katrina are insane. No one is looking at the numbers.
The US Census reported household income in San Diego County as $47,067. In New Orleans, it was $27,133. In SD, 8.9% of the families live at or below the poverty line; in NO, that's 23.7%.
The implication that San Diego isn't suffering because it's one big happy neighborhood, or because the people are nicer to each other, is insane and insulting.
New Orleans was a tight community -- but it didn't have the reserves or resources to do what San Diego has been doing. No one expected ice cream and free massages in the Superdome, where there were about the same number of folks put up on a tiny fraction of the resources.
Truth is, no one cared about New Orleans, but the folks in San Diego are more engaged, more media savvy, and most of all, more wealthy.Â And everyoneÂ knows that rich people aren't going to loot, riot, or need to see National Guards or police brandishing guns to keep order.
Doesn't the framing of this entire thing sound a little fishy to anyone else?
Pardon my flames, as it were.
Shava Nerad, News and Opinion Correspondent:
Shava Nerad has been working on the Internet for over twenty-five years, at the boundaries of Internet and social issues.Â She is CEO of Indigenis, a consulting group working at the intersection of virtual worlds, social networking, and gaming communities, and will soon be leaving her position as development director of The Tor Project to help found a youth journalism initiative.Â
She lives in Somerville, MA with her teenage son, her fiance (a professional magician and fundraising coach), and a corgi/dachshund mutt named George.
Opinions here have nothing to do with Tor or Indigenis.Â
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