Palaces For The People
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
2,000 Homes Burned Out in SoCal. 34 Palaces For The People needed to replace these.

34 TOTALLY FIREPROOF PALACES can house these 2,000 families each in 3,000 square foot home units. Expected US cost of basic construction materials, including solar PV autonomous electric system, would be $20K/family, excluding land purchase. The land required is roughly 180 acres, or the just slightly larger than the size of an average farm of a quarter-section. This land estimate includes roads 100 feet wide, four hectare-sized parks, and an industrial campus for employment purposes of four hectares of buildings. (A hectare is 2.53 acres, or just over 100,000 square feet each.)

These people would have 71 MILLION GALLONS of water cistern storage capacity for firefighting purposes, plus the buildings use no wood or any flamable materials of any kind in their construction.

They need never fear being burned out again!

San Bernadino Fires Force 80,000 to Flee

Some 80,000 People Flee Wildfires in California's San Bernadino Mountains; 17 Deaths Reported

SAN DIEGO Oct. 28 — Tens of thousands of people fled the San Bernadino mountains Tuesday to escape raging wildfires, causing a traffic jam on a narrow mountain highway, and frustrated firefighters said there was little they could do to stop the flames. About 80,000 full-time residents have been evacuated from the mountains since Saturday, and the situation got worse Tuesday.

"Just about everything is burning," said William Bagnell, fire chief of the Crest Forest Fire Protection District.

Authorities announced two more deaths in San Bernadino County on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 17 in California's deadliest wildfires in more than a decade. Ten thousand firefighters were on the front lines throughout the state, and Gov. Gray Davis estimated the cost at nearly $2 billion.

"This is a total disaster," Davis said. "It reminds me of when I was in Vietnam, communities were burned out."

Since Oct. 21, at least 10 wind-driven wildfires many of them arson-caused have rampaged through Southern California, demolishing neighborhoods, gutting businesses and blackening more than half a million acres of land from the Mexican border to the Ventura-Los Angeles county line.

Nearly 1,600 homes have been destroyed. Two burn victims were in critical condition in San Diego.

In San Diego County, exhausted crews were pulled back even though two devastating blazes began merging. A blaze of more than 200,000 acres formed a 45-mile front stretching into Scripps Ranch and Julian. The fire was just miles from joining with a 37,000-acre fire near Escondido.

The two fires have destroyed more than 900 homes. If they join up, the flames would cut off escape routes and whip up the wind.

Reinforcements were sent out, but Rich Hawkins, a U.S. Forest Service fire chief, said he needed twice as many firefighters.

"They're so fatigued that despite the fact the fire perimeter might become much larger, we're not willing to let the firefighters continue any further," he said. "They are too fatigued from three days of battle."

Authorities believe the largest, nicknamed the Cedar Fire, was set by a lost hunter trying to signal rescuers. The state forestry department issued Sergio Martinez, 33, a misdemeanor citation for setting an unauthorized fire.

To the north, firefighters had feared they would lose hundreds of homes late Monday and early Tuesday as a fire in the hills between Los Angeles and Ventura counties threatened to push into neighborhoods in the densely populated San Fernando Valley, including one gated community of million-dollar mansions.

But winds subsided enough to let pilots douse the area with water and fire retardant. Backfires and bulldozers were used to clear away the fuel in the flames' path. Reinforcements were sent to help on the ground, and temperatures dropped.

"They saved every one of them," said Bill Peters, a spokesman for the California Forestry Department.

The flames are feeding on millions of dead trees, weakened by drought and killed by a bark beetle infestation. Officials were particularly worried about "crowning," where flames leap from one treetop to another, leaving firefighters on the ground all but powerless to stop them.

"If that occurs, we don't have the capability to put those fires out," U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Carol Beckley said. "It will be a firestorm."

On the highway near Julian, high walls of flames lit up a mountain ridge along Lake Cuyamaca. The blaze sounded like an explosion as flames tore across the dry brush and trees.

Glenn Wagner, San Diego County chief medical examiner, said he expects the death toll to rise as crews begin inspecting the hundreds of charred homes.

"This fire was so fast," he said. "I'm sure we're going to find folks who simply never had a chance to get out of their houses."

Some victims died within view of San Vicente Lake, a boating and fishing destination in Ramona. "Could you imagine looking out at all that water in San Vicente Lake and still dying in the fire?" Wagner said.

Hawkins, of the Forest Service, said lunches intended for firefighters on Monday were not delivered until Tuesday morning.

"It's like war. This whole fire has been a war so far," Hawkins said. "What the firefighters are facing is a lack of sleep, a lack of food, a lack of diesel fuel in some cases and a lack of logistical support."

Ken Hale, a state Forestry Department division chief who had been on the fire line for 55 hours, said firefighters even drove to nearby towns to gas up their vehicles and buy fast food. But it is all part of the job, he said.

"As soon as I found out people had died, it changes the entire outlook on the fire. It goes from being an adversary, a worthy adversary, to something that's very deadly, a monster," Hale said as he headed for some sleep.

18 people killed, 2000 homes destroyed in California fires

Los Angeles, October 29

More than 11,000 firefighters were on Tuesday battling California's worst ever wildfires that have killed at least 18 people, destroyed 2,000 homes, and forced tens of thousands into shelters.

The sky over the second largest US city, Los Angeles, was painted an eerie hue of orange as a thick pall of smoke from fires burning over at least 217,200 hectares (543,000 acres) blocked out the sun.

Giant plumes of smoke stretched miles up into the sky and were visible from space, as up to 50,000 more residents of mountainous areas east of here fled their homes as flames exploded through fire cordons.

"This may well be the worst disaster the state has faced," outgoing California Governor Gray Davis said of the 14 fires, many of which are now thought to have been sparked by arsonists.

"I expect the cost in the next few days to near two billion dollars," he said, adding that the figure included loss of infrastructure, relief and firefighting efforts.

Davis also declared a state of emergency in a fifth county in southern California, Riverside, where a new blaze is raging, two days after doing so in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

The governor's Office of Emergency Services said the fires burning in the south of the most populous US state and had killed at least 16 people in California and consumed well over half a million acres.

A further two people died in Mexico after the flames jumped the border at San Diego. Officials in California said more dead were certain to be found in the disaster zones when the flames clear.

Nine major infernos were blazing around the southern city of San Diego, in Los Angeles' suburban San Fernando Valley and in the popular mountain resort area of Big Bear in San Bernardino County, 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Los Angeles.

"It's a rolling disaster that's just growing in size, its overwhelming," said Patty Roberts of the OES, which is coordinating fire data.

More 11,000 firefighters and 81 planes and helicopters from at least six states were launching major and ground and air attacks on the blazes, which were largely burning out of control over tinder-dry brush and forestland.
Sahel, Africa: Severe Flooding Causes Food Crisis in East

Severe Flooding Causes Food Crisis in East
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

October 27, 2003
Posted to the web October 27, 2003


Widespread flooding caused by exceptionally heavy rainfall has destroyed vast areas of cropland in the east of Guinea-Bissau, threatening thousands of families with famine, Agriculture Minister Mamadu Badji said on Monday.

He said 80 percent of Guinea-Bissau's peasant farmers had been adversely affected by flooding and forecast that Guinea-Bissau would have to import about 120,000 tonnes of rice this year - twice as much as usual - to make good the expected shortfall in local food production.

Speaking on his return from a visit to the east of the country, Badji described the situation in the eastern regions of Bafata and Gabu as a calamity. The government would appeal to the international community for food aid, he added.

The agriculture minister said large areas of rice planted along the banks of the Geba river, which runs into northeastern Guinea-Bissau from Senegal, had been destroyed by flooding. Elsewhere in Bafata and Gabu provinces fields of maize and beans were rotting under water, he added.

Meteorologists say the floods have been caused by the wettest rainy season in the Sahel for more than 30 years.

While the abundant rainfall has benefited crops in most of the drought-prone region, it has proved a disaster in Guinea-Bissau, a flat country of low-lying swamps and wide meandering rivers, which floods easily.

Government officials said a team from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) was currently touring the interior of this former Portuguese colony of 1.3 million people to evaluate the situation.
Floods hit 200,000 in Thailand, put royal palace in danger

Floods hit 200,000 in Thailand, put royal palace in danger
Agence France-Presse
Bangkok, October 28
Thai soldiers were scrambling on Tuesday to save a royal palace from floodwaters that have submerged parts of southern and central Thailand, affecting more than 200,000 people and leaving one boy drowned.

Some 209,633 people in Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi provinces have been hit by heavy flooding brought on by days of torrential rains.

Army troops have been ordered to place thousands of sandbags to form a protective dyke around the Phra Ram Ratchaniwet palace in Petchaburi province, Thai army spokesman Somkuan Saengpattaranetr said.

"This palace is an important historical landmark and one of the most famous tourist destinations in the province," Somkuan said. "If the floodwaters get in to the compound it will damage the palace."

The European-style palace, one of several in the kingdom and completed in 1916 during the reign of King Rama VI, is located in the central city of Petchaburi just 50 metres from the overflowing Petchaburi River.

Thailand's royal household has helped in relief efforts, providing emergency food aid to families most severely affected by the flooding.

The damage bill from the severe weather has topped 25 million dollars, according to the department of disaster prevention and mitigation.

A 13-year-old boy drowned on Friday in Ratchaburi, the department said.

Some 292 roads, including main north-south arteries along the Thai peninsula, have been inundated, while the sole railway linking the capital Bangkok to southern districts remains closed.

China floods, 200,000 homes destroyed

Headline: 123 dead or missing in China floods, 200,000 homes destroyed -- Detail Story

BEIJING: More than 200,000 homes have collapsed and another 530,000 are damaged after pounding rain in China's Shaanxi province, where 123 have died or gone missing since August, reports and officials said Tuesday.

Most of the homes destroyed were cave dwellings close to hills and mountainsides. More than 200,000 cave dwellings have collapsed this month, an official from the disaster relief department of the Shaanxi Civil Affairs Bureau said, adding that another 530,000 had been damaged.

123 people were dead or missing in Shaanxi in floods a press report said. The Wei River has experienced its worst flooding in 20 years this year, inundating more than 200 square kilometres (80 square miles) of land, forcing the evacuation of 300,000 people, the report said.
Thousands homeless as flooding sweeps through China

Posted :Tue, 28 Oct 2003 22:06 AEST
Thousands homeless as flooding sweeps through China

Flooding in north-west China has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

Chinese state media report weeks of heavy rain and floods in the north-western Shaanxi Province have caused more than 200,000 hillside cave dwellings or houses to collapse.

Half-a-million more homes have also been rendered uninhabitable.

More than two-million people are said to have been affected, with hundreds of thousands left homeless.

A Government official says 23 people have been killed by cave-ins and others have been buried alive.

The National Ministry of Civil Affairs has reportedly earmarked $10 million in aid for the province.

Millions of Chinese people live in cave houses cut into giant embankments or in houses where a hillside makes up one or more walls.

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