Posted by ws1 on:
Ethan and I went out to the Red Cross Shelter at the MAC Center at UCSB. It felt a little weird being there to take pictures. We weren't capturing the flames, or even the homes of that some of these people lost. We were just witnessing a sort-of surreal purgatory. A purgatory full of people in their pajamas, wandering around an indoor hockey rink, eating, charging their phones, and witnessing big water planes spray orange fire-retardant on their neighborhoods. Though we weren't sure what we were expecting, most of them seemed a little bored and tired of waiting.
I spoke for a few minutes to a guy that I hadn't seen since high school. His story matched most of the others we've been hearing. He recalled thinking how much he thought it sucked that certain areas closer to Mission Canyon were being burnt, with that guilty excitement that many of us feel when something BIG happens in our town. Then the fire started racing west. Then they got the warning call. Then the Jesusita fire (if you didn't know this is spanish for 'Baby Jesus' you do now) jumped highway 154. Then it was time to leave, which he and his family did along with other stunned neighbors, and here he is, looking for a place to plug in his dead iPhone.
The Red Cross facilities are top-notch. They are well-staffed (and well-volunteered), clean, and internet equipped. There are even a bunch of plasma screen TV's set up here or there, each surrounded some mildly dazed evacuees in folding chairs and blankets.
There was even a second gymnasium that was all ready to go with several hundred cots, garbage cans, and stacks of bottled water in the corners. The Red Cross gets huge kudos for being so on top of it. Happily, because of their competence, there is very little else to report.
Here are some photos:
The Women's section (I'm guessing this was the quieter end of the rink).
Volunteer getting snacks ready.
Another Volunteer getting cozy with the staff.
Watching the planes drop retardant.
Watching the DC-10 big drop.
Sheriff Bill Brown tours the facilities with entourage of Red Cross Staffers, journalists and officers.
The next gym, ready to go.
Chancellor Yang and friends
Jesusita Fire PHOTOS from the past few days:
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