On Sunday, October 21st I met with the soccer team I coach (7 year old girls) at 10:00 AM to take our team photo.  One of the parents and a friend of mine, Chris Sovay, is a San Diego firefighter.  He was considering playing in a benefit golf tournament  with me that day, but had to bow out.  He mentioned casually, "We're expecting there might be fires with the Santa Ana winds.  I'm on call to go in to work."

"Might be fires..." would be the understatement of 2007, and perhaps this decade.

The golf tournament went on, without Chris.  At tee time, 1 PM, we had heard nothing of fires.  By the time we finished at 6, we understood that there were fires burning.  When the dinner was over at 8:30 PM, we were aware that evacuations were well under way and many homes were in peril.

How quickly things change...  From an October morning that the Chamber of Commerce might feature in a brochure to the onset of the worst firestorm in history in just a few hours...  I'm not going to try and report upon that; the media has done an excellent job in keeping the citizenry updated and informed.

I just want to take a moment to thank the San Diego Firefighters, The Division of Forestry Firefighters, all Law Enforcement officers and officials, The American Red Cross, The San Diego Food Bank, the Media, and so many other entities (including politicians) for making this potential disaster as tolerable and controlled as it possibly could be.

Hats off to everyone involved for orderly handling of this.  It could have been a crisis, and I'm certain it is for those who have lost their homes, yet the handling of the situation undoubtedly saved many lives.  Homes can be rebuilt, but the valuable things - life and families - have been spared by the quick and decisive actions of the entities noted above.  Great Work.

I also want to take a moment to congratulate the people of San Diego County.  I just returned from making a donation at the evacuation site at Qualcomm Stadium, and I must say that I have never seen such an outpouring of aid.  There were mountains of supplies - food, water, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, canopies, pet & animal food and more.  Here's a photo I shot with my cell phone as I was passing out water to the site workers.

Let's give ourselves a pat on the back for our efforts.  There is more here than they can use, yet I was assured that the supplies will be needed elsewhere.  The woman who put me to work told me that when they need anything, they simply notify the media.  Whatever they ask for is there, with cars lined up to deliver it in less than an hour.

WOW.  I'm impressed at the efforts of San Diego in pulling together in this time of need.  I know that there are people using the shelter I brought for relief from the sun, there are kids enjoying the toys that my own children donated from their toyboxes, and the other supplies we've donated are helping make life easier there as people wait to return to their homes.

My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes.  I lived through the wind-whipped flames of the Panorama fire in 1980.  We managed to save our home then; 100's of our neighbors did not.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those folks today who've suffered loss, just as they did 27 years ago to our friends and neighbors.

Good luck to the men & women still out there on the lines!  And thanks, Chris, for skipping golf to save lives and homes.