October 31, 2003

Editorial:

A lot to be thankful for;

a lot to re-examine

With thousands of homes destroyed, lives lost, close to a million acres charred, and with the wildfire still raging throughout the city and county of San Diego, there is still a lot to be thankful for.

We can be thankful for the firefighters who have once again demonstrated the true meaning of heroics these men and women in the line of duty have stepped forward and gone beyond the call of duty. They have put life and limb on the line and gone to battle underarmed and overwhelmed; yet, like true heroes they stepped forward in order to save life and property.

We can be thankful that the people of San Diego and the county were able to come together and step forward during this disastrous time to lend emotional and financial support. It never ceases to amaze that during times such as these, a community as large as San Diego comes together, much like a village, to support their friends and neighbors.

While we mourn the loss of loved ones, friends, and members of our community, at the same time we are thankful for all the lives that were saved and property that was spared.

Residents of Chula Vista are thankful for Otay Lake that thwarted the fire, preventing the destruction of countless homes.

We can be thankful to our political leadership, who responded so quickly to the emergency.

There is no way anybody could have ever been fully prepared for such a disaster. Many questions have already been raised as to the county’s preparedness. Questions raised which will be discussed and analyzed in the future such as why San Diego is so ill equipped for air support and why the military, with its vast resources, was unable to assist in combating the fire.

But there is one issue that should be addressed immediately; with San Diego being a multi-lingual society why there was no effort to inform non-English speaking people of the danger that they faced with the fire. Not one single governing agency took the pain to inform them in their native language.

The only television stations that has given continuous coverage to this fire has been the English-language stations. As for the non-English speaking community, they were left in the dark!

We are dismayed at the lack of coverage and response to the needs of the farm workers, migrant workers who live in the back countries often times living in makeshift structures, without running water or autos in which to make a quick evacuation. Without up-to-date information about the fire or evacuation, knowledge of where the shelters are, or what to do after loss of home and property, these people have been left in limbo to survive on their own. I shudder to think what will be found in the hills and valleys, probably countless bodies of migrant workers who were caught unaware.

In a county that boast over 600,000 Hispanics, that borders Mexico and purports to be sensitive to the needs of this community, there is no excuse as to why the major media in this region has not been able to provide the necessary information in Spanish, especially when there is nowhere else to turn to. With all the modern technology why is it that not one station had a scrolling bar with the news in Spanish, or had a translator come on and present the most the most crucial news at regular intervals.

But no, the Spanish speaking community was left out. But this is something that can be corrected today. We call on the television news media to take the necessary steps to fill the void that so far has gone on ignored.

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