September 18, 2020
Greetings from beautiful, sunny, California -- or should I say beautiful, hot, burning California? For the first time in weeks, today’s morning sky was blue, not orange or apocalyptic gray, and no ash fell like rain. I am fortunate to live in San Diego, removed a distance from the actual wildfires devastating millions and millions of acres of trees and brush. However, our air quality is in the moderate to dangerous category here-- hundreds of miles from the actual fires.
The Bobcat fire, east of Los Angeles, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, was 6 percent contained yesterday, and because of deteriorating weather conditions has dropped to 3 percent today. Firefighters are struggling to contain this fire and to protect the important Mount Wilson Observatory. Farther north and east of the Bay Area the fires have once again destroyed the area destroyed by the Paradise fire in 2018. Families who had just managed to recover from that fire have once again lost their homes. 7.900 wildfires, 3.3 million acres, and this weekend is predicted to bring higher temperatures, gusty winds and decreased humidity--all conditions leading to higher risks for our beautiful state and the thousands and thousands of firefighters risking their lives to battle the flames. Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton, just 30 miles from where I sit, are being sent to work alongside of firefighters across the state.
We are struggling here--fires, heat, power outages, poor air quality, loss of life, homes and forests. As we grapple with this natural disaster, it is layered with our struggle in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, community unrest, school closures, economic hardship and overall political turmoil. Our wonderful Governor, Gavin Newsom, has worked tirelessly to lead us through all that challenges us; yet upon a visit to our state on Monday, the current President of the United States encouraged us with “it’s going to get cooler...science doesn’t know” I pass those words on to all of our suffering Californians! Hopefully November will bring our nation true leadership and the deep empathy we yearn for as all of us, in California and across our nation, endure great hardship. California will survive, our nation will survive, as we always have, for we are a land of strong, determined, hopeful and resourceful people!
Jeanette Handelsman/San Diego, CA
Jeanette Handelsman is the Alumnae Relations Coordinator at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego, CA. Herself an alumna of O.L.P, she previously served as a teacher in the science department and as the Assistant Principal for Campus Life. She graduated from Lone Mountain College in San Francisco with a B.A. in Biology and earned a Masters in Educational Leadership at the University of San Diego. Jeanette is a native San Diegan but spent her young adulthood, particularly during the turbulent ‘60s, in San Francisco and the north Bay. Although semiretired,, she continues the work she loves at her alma mater while being an involved and delighted mother of three and grandmother of four. When not in a pandemic, she loves to travel, especially to the Val di Non, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy, to visit her close family there.