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Our View: In the face of disaster

Our View: In the face of disaster

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Upvalley Fire Scenes

Smoke rises from the western hills from Silverado Trail near Yountville Cross Road on Thursday. Air quality remains poor and a potential risk to general population.

In a sense, we’ve seen this show before.

Disaster strikes. The community rallies around the stricken. Local and national institutions step forward to help out. Businesses and charitable institutions offer donations and support.

Napa County is getting good at this. The muscle memory of the 2014 earthquake and the relief effort for the 2015 Valley Fire is strong, so we slipped easily into disaster mode this week with a gratifying speed and organization.

But this disaster is not like the others.

We’ve had devastating fires before, including some that burned in the same places that are still on fire, but we’ve never had this many fires all at once.

We’ve had floods, but floods come and go and affect a limited area.

We’ve had earthquakes, but the damage is instant and the rebuilding starts almost the moment the shaking stops.

The disaster that has befallen Napa and Sonoma counties is like wrapping all those disasters together in one package. It’s like a slow-motion earthquake that goes on for a week. It’s like a flood that spreads from Lake County to Vallejo.

Never before has a disaster struck so widely in our county. Never has a disaster involved so much agonizing waiting and uncertainty for so long a period. Even those not in the direct path of danger are affected – horrendous air quality; road and school closures, businesses closed, visitors non-existent.

We are confident that we are in good hands. Our local fire departments are dedicated and well trained. Our law enforcement has more than proven its skill in evacuating ahead of danger and securing the properties left behind. We are being flooded with experienced fire crews from across the world, as far away as Australia.

Whatever happens in the next few days or weeks, we know Napa County will rebuild, no matter how painful our losses may be.

In the meantime, we urge patience for everyone in the area. We know the waiting and uncertainty are, at times, almost beyond bearing. We know that the lack of detailed information, which is the result of the scale and seriousness of the disaster, is maddening.

But our fate, as one supervisor said this week, is in the hands of the winds. We must give our firefighters and law enforcement the space and time that they need to protect us.

We are gratified by the outpouring of love and goodwill that we have seen in the midst of this disaster. We hope you will continue to open your hearts and homes to those displaced. We hope you support local businesses and restaurants that are suffering so much lost revenue.

It will take weeks, perhaps even months, to restore some kind of normality to all parts of the county.

In the meantime, please be patient; please be good to one another. Thank our firefighters and always hope for the best.

The Napa Valley Register Editorial Board consists of Publisher Brenda Speth, Editor Sean Scully, and public members Cindy Webber, Ed Shenk, Mary Jean Mclaughlin and Chris Hammaker.

The Napa Valley Register Editorial Board consists of Publisher Brenda Speth, Editor Sean Scully, and public members Cindy Webber, Ed Shenk, Mary Jean Mclaughlin and Chris Hammaker.

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