Michael Mauldin: Nature changing nature | TheUnion.com

Michael Mauldin: Nature changing nature

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Michael Maudlin

This past winter I remember standing on a bridge over the Yuba River, watching the muddy run-off raging down the canyon.

At that time I was awestruck at the power of the water shaking the foundations of the bridge on which I stood.

Small trees and broken limbs bobbed and crashed down the rain-gorged river. The debris was truly helpless within the wild current. Some debris would wind up floating peacefully on a lake until elements break down and it all becomes part of creation soup.

Then came the fires of Oct. 9. Fire, another tool of nature, mixed with gale-force winds, became a blow torch of destruction. This tool transformed normalcy into chaos and chaos became ashes leading to loss of life and much suffering for so many. Had the winds not stopped, the fires would still be burning, destroying, changing all in its path as well as those of us near and far from its terror. Once again attesting, we are not in control.

This was truly a “wake-up” call for us, and I bet for many of you living in the forests or near them.

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We had the 1:05 a.m. call, "Evacuate Now!"

However, we were 200 miles away and oblivious to the alert, but our kitties slept in our bed, waiting for us to return from our trip. Our "code red" emergency phone rang at the house with the message, but we had not listed our cell phones (until now). The plans we had made for the "unlikely" event of an evacuation where all for naught. We had a plan, but were not there to execute the plan and, based on talking with neighbors, many others whom thought they had a plan were not prepared for a middle of the night exodus. The only thing that saved our neighborhood was the fact that the winds changed and burned down a different neighborhood before the fire crews could get a handle on the fire.

In less than a day the evacuations were called off for our area and the fire was under control just a few hilltops to the north.

This was truly a "wake-up" call for us, and I bet for many of you living in the forests or near them. Taking things for granted may be part of our human condition but being in control of nature is not something one should assume. There will be catastrophes but given the chance to "evacuate now" we want to be as prepared as possible.

So we have decided to be more vigilant during high fire season. Be practiced on leaving in the middle of the night with all cats secure and a few other essentials. We will not travel away from the area during high fire season (all summer and fall?). Or, if travel is necessary, one of us will stay home. We have done the defensible space as recommended by the fire council. And now are working on clearing the roads in the area for safe passage. We are getting our neighbors involved.

You may choose to do the same and or more, but above all, do not take life for granted.

Michael Mauldin lives in Grass Valley.

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