It happened. We had our first meeting. Amy, Mona & I spent the entire afternoon brainstorming, problem solving, and planning. It was exciting. It was scary. But of me, mostly it was energizing. The opportunities are plentiful and there are so many different things we could do. However, there are a ton of issues we are going to have to deal with. We will need some seriously tough skin. It is going to be a heck of a ride.
After our meeting, we attended the community meeting on the fire. This was put on by lawyers from the bay area. It was a presentation about why they all needed to sue PG&E and use them to do it. The fire is considered to be PG&E's fault by many.
The room was full of a variety of people. At the beginning there were a lot of questions from the community. I felt a lot of anger and frustration in that room. I was one of them and I didn't lose a anything. The topic was help with property clean up and erosion control. I heard one person after another ask who could help them with that. The answer was it is on you because county can't afford to help you. The guy next to me was talking about the price of seed if you tried to spread wildflowers on your property. 1000$ per acre. Who is going to help him get that? No one.
The other thing that shocked me. The lack of communication all over the place. Between people, agencies, government.... most of the people in that room did not know that Calaveras Grown was helping with erosion control and had placed straw for people to pick up. Many of these people were older and not physically able to do this work themselves, but they still are. They are out there with rakes and chainsaws trying to do it by themselves. All had filled out the form (the right of entry permit) to have the environmental help come clear their property. The man in charge of this operation has received 600 applications so far. They have 12 crews and they have cleared 24 properties. He did not come to the meeting because he was still out working. They estimate it will take 3-6 months to clear all of the properties that have applied so far.
There were a lot of emotions in that room and I wanted to talk to people when it was over. I had my business cards and thought I was ready but when it was over I just didn't. I totally froze up. Luckily for me, Mona was also there and she stayed, talked and passed out all our flyers. Thanks Mona : ) I am particularly upset with myself for not talking to one young mother who is still staying in a hotel. She has found herself in a tricky situation in which FEMA does not like. I wanted to find out more about her story and what she needed but I let the opportunity go.
I have a full day ahead in Mountain Ranch. I have not doubt it will be enlightening and eventful.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!