Bet­ter dis­as­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion needed

San Francisco Chronicle - - OPIN­ION -

Re­gard­ing “Dis­as­ter is re­lent­less” (Page One, Oct. 11) and the fires in Napa: We are of course in­ex­press­ibly grate­ful to the emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel. This let­ter is in­tended to be con­struc­tive. The scari­est part of this ex­pe­ri­ence for my fam­ily was the lack of re­li­able and co­her­ent in­for­ma­tion about the state of the fires, in­clud­ing where they were and likely to move and how quickly, dur­ing the early hours of the fire. Most of Napa was out of power, so there was no ac­cess to the In­ter­net and there was also no cell ser­vice. The only me­dia avail­able was through ra­dio.

Our lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion (KVON) did a valiant job of get­ting the sta­tion on­line and at­tempt­ing to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion, but the only sources they had were phone calls from cit­i­zens re­port­ing what they could see. From these it was hard to get more than a vague and par­tial idea of what was go­ing on. What was needed was a spokesper­son from emer­gency ser­vices who could in­te­grate in­for­ma­tion from the field and reg­u­larly re­port their best un­der­stand­ing of the sta­tus. A num­ber of peo­ple did not get the evac­u­a­tion or­der un­til the fire was on top of them. Bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion would have helped. David Pos­ner, Napa

In­sur­ance warn­ing

“Re­build­ing: Don’t rush re­cov­ery, Oak­land hills blaze sur­vivors ad­vise” was help­ful, but I sus­pect the cur­rent fire vic­tims’ ex­pe­ri­ence will be quite dif­fer­ent than Oak­land hills sur­vivors. Most will find they are dras­ti­cally un­der-in­sured, as did fire vic­tims in San Diego in 2007. In 1991, most home­own­ers had “guar­an­teed re­place­ment” in­sur­ance, so in­sur­ance had to pay the cost of fully re­plac­ing your home no mat­ter how much your pre­mium was. In­sur­ance com­pa­nies lost so much money from the Oak­land fire that they quickly changed their poli­cies and now few, if any, of­fer guar­an­teed re­place­ment in Cal­i­for­nia.

In­stead, they disin­gen­u­ously use the word “re­place­ment” in their poli­cies but it is capped at a spec­i­fied dol­lar amount, which might not ac­tu­ally pay to re­place your home. It is up to you, the home­owner, to know how much it will cost in to­day’s dol­lars to hire an ar­chi­tect, ob­tain per­mits, and have a con­trac­tor build a true re­place­ment. Un­til in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are re­quired to sell us a pol­icy that truly re­flects the ever-in­creas­ing cus­tom-home build­ing costs, most fire vic­tims lose out both emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially. Holly Had­lock, Mill Val­ley

Shameful ageism

With all the types of dis­crim­i­na­tion we face in this na­tion, let’s not add ageism, es­pe­cially of women, to this ugly list. Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein has served Cal­i­for­nia loy­ally and with the wis­dom and skill that comes with ma­ture and ra­tio­nal think­ing. She does her home­work metic­u­lously on all is­sues be­fore her and has earned the right to con­tinue to serve in her unique ca­pac­ity that leads the way in bi­par­ti­san suc­cess, the only way we will ever make our way out of the con­gres­sional quag­mire we’re in. There are so many oth­ers, in­clud­ing some very prom­i­nent male lead­ers of this coun­try, who should step down be­fore she does. I don’t hear the call for them to be re­moved. She has proved her­self over and over. Does that count for noth­ing? Is she just to be dis­carded like an inan­i­mate ob­ject with built-in ob­so­les­cence? What dis­re­spect that would sig­nal for my grand­daugh­ters and all the young women in our midst. When and if she loses the abil­ity to lead and serve as well as she has done for many years, I’m cer­tain she will vol­un­tar­ily step down. To force her out be­fore her time is shameful and dis­crim­i­na­tory. Evie Groch, El Cer­rito

Merge the scout groups

With the news that the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica will now be ad­mit­ting girls, and al­low­ing them to at­tain the cov­eted rank of Ea­gle Scout, here’s a ques­tion to pon­der: Why do we still have scout­ing groups that are de­fined by gen­der? Since more of to­day’s youth are iden­ti­fy­ing as non­bi­nary, why not merge the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts of the USA into one larger, all-in­clu­sive group known as the Scouts of Amer­ica? Nina Nguyen, Daly City

Pos­ture of prayer

It puz­zles me that Pres­i­dent Trump, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and oth­ers re­gard kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them as a show of dis­re­spect. In al­most all cul­tures, kneel­ing is a pos­ture of prayer and hu­mil­ity. Surely, the play­ers are not show­ing con­tempt for our na­tional ideals, but pray­ing that we might be more wor­thy of them. Alan Wil­liamson, Berke­ley

Tim Camp­bell / Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group

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