How Fragile We Are...

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza      September 18, 2020

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How Fragile We Are...
Three fire hawk helicopters simultaneously taking up water from 69 Bravo reservoirs on Tuesday, September 8, to extinguish fires in Topanga. They snorkeled up 43,000 gallons in 75 minutes containing the TCB narrows fire to 10 acres. Photo coutesy of LACoFD.
Gabrielle Lamirand and her husband, Roy, have lost their home in the Berry Creek fire. They were long-time Topangans, great friends to all, and dedicated volunteers. Gabrielle was not just a leader, she was a powerhouse who co-founded a number of essential organizations in the canyon such as the Topanga Town Council, TCEP, and more recently, the Canyon Sages. She and Roy took emergency preparedness seriously, which is why they escaped with their lives. Others were not so lucky. A GoFundMe has been created for them: How prepared are you? Here at home, on September 8, all it took was a crazed truck driver speeding along Topanga Canyon Blvd. hauling a utility trailer to set Topanga alight in two places, first at Entrado Road and then in the narrows, a mile north of PCH. Helicopters drew water from the ocean and LACoFD helispot 69 Bravo in Topanga to contain the fires in short order. (See Page 8 for safety tips from Fire Chief Drew Smith) We’ve had a number of close calls since the Woolsey fire and if you look at an aerial map, you see Topanga as a green bullseye in the center of burn areas. Topanga’s emergency preparedness plan, “Ready! Set! Go!”, became a model for communities across the nation. It was spearheaded by then supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky after the 1993 fire that started at the summit above Old Canyon. Topanga was in the crosshairs, but winds shifted, swept it through Malibu to the beach, but then turned back to Topanga where it was stopped a mile from where I was living near Topanga State Park. The plan took about 10 years to fully implement and has been improved upon as technology and information changed and includes preparing for other emergencies such as earthquakes and floods. Why wouldn’t every single resident living in Topanga have a detailed emergency plan and maybe some practical training such as first aid and CPR? How many residents know about the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)? It’s a national program that educates volunteers about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills. Topanga CERT offers free Level 1 CERT volunteer training programs in fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations, skills that professional responders may come to rely on during disasters. We rely on our first responders. Why shouldn’t they be able to rely on us? Find CERT on Facebook. The Canyon Chronicle’s senior reporter, Annemarie Donkin, is writing a series of articles about our emergency volunteer organizations in the canyon, that started with TCEP in the September 4 issue. In this issue, check out the Arson Watch team that patrols the mountains looking for signs of smoke and fire, especially on Red Flag days, and reports them before they can become conflagrations (Page 7). It’s time to get your Election 2020 brain in gear. Joel Bellman explains the complexities of Proposition 15 (page 5), and why it’s important “to reverse one of the most unjust features of the original Prop 13: the property tax-reduction initiative passed in 1978.” To get you started, we also included a cursory look at the ballot propositions for November 3 from, where you can learn more. Stand up and be counted. If you haven’t already completed the Census form, or know someone else who hasn’t, do it now. Your friends and neighbors are knocking on doors to ensure that “Everyone Counts.” Don’t turn them away. Also Inside. Opening our eyes to other cultures are two freelance writers. Ali Depsky, who concludes her two-parter, “There’s No Racism in Argentina” (Page 10-11); and Nikhil Misra-Bhambri with his second article, “Pacoima Gurudwara: Feeding the Poor and Needy,” about a Sikh community organization that has stepped up to help its neighbors in need. (Page 9) Eric Fitzgerald, our Backyard Astronomer, holds forth on the Autumnal Equinox (Page 12), and Kait Leonard says “Hello October 2020” (page 13) with the astrological outlook for the month that starts with a full moon and ends with a blue moon. With every intention of returning to the stage in 2021 with its summer repertory season of plays, Theatricum Botanicum’s schedule of fall classes and celebrations (pages 17-18) culminates in a virtual community fundraising event on Saturday, October 10. You have no excuse to be bored or idle with these offerings so close at hand. It is with heavy hearts we report the passing of Frank Rocco, patriarch of the legendary Rocco’s in the Canyon. (Page 18)
Flavia Potenza

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September 18, 2020