Wild­fires show im­por­tance of backup plans

Blazes knock out cell­phone ser­vice, roads in parts of Cal­i­for­nia

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

It doesn’t seem pos­si­ble, yet once again, an­other state is fac­ing a dire sce­nario.

In Cal­i­for­nia, at least 15 peo­ple are dead and more than 100 peo­ple in­jured amid wild­fires whip­ping across the state. More than 200 peo­ple are re­ported miss­ing, and about 20,000 peo­ple have been evac­u­ated.

Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Jerry Brown de­clared a state of emer­gency as at least 17 wild­fires burned out of con­trol.

Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters was the dam­age to in­fras­truc­ture. The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports that Sonoma County es­tab­lished a hot­line to help con­nect fam­ily mem­bers, not­ing that many who have been re­ported miss­ing may be safe, but can’t be reached be­cause of the “wide­spread loss of cell­phone ser­vice and other com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

In many ways, we’ve be­come spoiled with our in­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion on cell phones. We send off a quick text (Are you OK?) and within sec­onds, we ex­pect a re­ply — and usu­ally, we get one.

Yet these mas­sive, ag­gres­sive wild­fires are break­ing down that com­mu­ni­ca­tions abil­ity.

The AP also re­ports that peo­ple who tried to flee found some roads blocked, and oth­ers packed with in­tense traffic.

This is a par­tic­u­larly striking state­ment. If we were in cri­sis mode, try­ing to es­cape, we would turn to our cell­phone, pull up Google Maps, and look for the best way out. A long­time area res­i­dent would know the pos­si­ble roads to take, and the best ways to evac­u­ate. But what if it was a new res­i­dent or a vis­i­tor?

But what would you do, Yuma, if your exit route was blocked by flames, and your cell phone was out of com­mis­sion?

That is a re­al­is­tic sce­nario peo­ple faced as they tried to flee wild­fires in Cal­i­for­nia, and it’s ter­ri­fy­ing to con­sider.

We rely so heav­ily on those cell­phones, but ex­treme dis­as­ters such as this re­mind us of the im­por­tance of hav­ing backup plans, just in case.

The sit­u­a­tion in Cal­i­for­nia is far from over. Winds are ex­pected at least through tonight, and as of Tues­day af­ter­noon, none of the fires were un­der con­tain­ment. How­ever, aerial photos show streets that have been stripped of their homes and build­ings.

Our thoughts are with Californians as they face these wild­fires. Un­signed editorials rep­re­sent the view­point of this news­pa­per rather than an in­di­vid­ual. Col­umns and let­ters to the ed­i­tor rep­re­sent the view­points of the per­sons writ­ing them and do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the views of the Yuma Sun. Edi­to­rial

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