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Video excerpt from SAL/UER workshop on racism at the Global Climate Action Summit

Draft Program on Climate Change, for your comments (updated March 5, 2019) (short version now available)

 

The fires in Northern and Southern California are always on our minds here. Where I live, forty miles away from the closest fires, we can smell the smoke. The persistent dry heat makes perfect conditions for wildfires that . can then give way to flooding due to destroyed forests. This will only increase. I know a few people up north who’ve lost their homes. One family’s home burned to the ground; those parent’s workplace burned and . their child’s school burned. They had to leave the state and have no idea how or when they might return.

Thousands of homes and city areas have burned along with the thousands of acres of forest land. Untold numbers of animals and nearly a hundred of people have died in California since last year’s fires began, and this year’s dry season has just started. I, myself, live near some dry woods and have gotten notification from the power company (Pacific Gas and Electric) that my house is in the “fire lane.” I look around in my house thinking, okay, suppose I lose everything? I have begun to move my favorite books and photos to my office, farther from the fire lanes. My housemates and I have our “go kits” and my cat carry case ready, but wonder, suppose we weren't home?

I’m working with the state of California in a project to engage with “vulnerable populations” (disabled, elderly, poor people, etc.) to improve the transportation and housing/building resilience for disaster
preparedness and climate change impact. People dependent upon public transportation have a particular vulnerability as often in disasters, public transport is canceled or fails. Sea level rise around the San Francisco bay (by eight inches in the last 100 years) has begun to release toxic waste that had been buried. Sadly but not surprisingly, these toxic waste dumps are underneath low-income housing, affecting resident’s health, and requiring whole communities to be displaced. People in poorer areas tend to have higher incidents of disability and chronic illness. Sea level rise in the nine counties surrounding the SF bay is impacting transportation infrastructure and utilities. Every inch of rise covers fifty to one hundred inches of shoreline. The financial, personal and environmental costs are staggering.

My do-workers and I are working with disability organizations to alert
community members of the need to prepare for possible evacuation for both fires and flooding. This is a difficult population to mobilize, as their
lives already feel and are so hard. The history here shows that first
responders don’t have equipment or resources to “rescue” many people, and have no training regarding disabled people. Shelter systems have just begun to recognize their responsibility to include disabled people, though many still turn them away.

There are brochures available online with lists of things to do and
purchase to prepare. But low-income disabled people don’t have the money or help to compile these items or plan where to go. The power company sent postcards announcing that the power many be shut off for our safety in the event of fires. I have been trying to find out if and how they would consider the safety of people dependent up electricity for elevators, respirators or electric wheelchairs. When I've called, someone says I'll get a call back on that question.

Many organizations have begun to mobilize in varying degrees, for example, appointing a disaster prep staff person, who will network and begin to develop planning and trainings. We have regular conference calls to plan and share. The fires in California are waking people up to climate change. But it takes a lot to move people to take action.

Love to all!
Marsha


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00