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Apocalypse California: Fire, Water, & Natural Catastrophes

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Shawn Schwaller

on 3 October 2018

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Transcript of Apocalypse California: Fire, Water, & Natural Catastrophes

Apocalypse California:
Fire, Water, & Natural Catastrophes
Image of California, Late 20th and Early 21st Cent.
- Pastoral then Suburban Eden
- Unlimited Resources
- Endless Land for Sprawl
- Cities for a New Urban Utopia
- Unified Economic, Political, and Cultural Superpower
- All of these ideas were put to the test...
Firing The Suburban Eden:
Most Destructive Rural, Urban, and Suburban Fires in U.S., 1960s-2000s
- Alters ideas of Nature and Growth/Sprawl
Bel Air Fire:
November 5th-8th, 1961
484 homes lost, 200 damaged, 16,000 acres, $20 million in damages
Worst Fire in Southern Calif. History
3,500 residents evacuated, and a workforce of over 400 L.A. County Fire fighters and 250 National Guard
Several Celebrities Lost Homes
Remnants of a home lost in the 1961 Bel Air Fire
Burned-Out Homes in Bel Air Neighborhood
Richard Nixon watering down roof during the 1961 Be Air Fire
Newsreel Footage of 1961 Bel Air Fire
Oakland Hills firestorm:
October 19th-23rd, 1991
Upper-class hilltop community in the northern portion of Oakland
25 deaths, 150 injuries, 3,300 homes and over 430 apartment condominium complexes, 1,500 acres
$1.5 Billion in Damage
Assistance from as far away as Nevada and Oregon, 1,500 total personnel to contain
Fueled by highly flammable non-native eucalyptus trees surrounding the area
Depletion of Wild Oak and Eucalyptus
CNN Coverage of the Oakland Hills Firestorm
Southern California:
October, 2007
17 major wildfires occurring from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border over the course of 20 days
Worst Month in Calif. History
970,000 acres, took 14 lives, 160 injuries, and nearly 1,300 homes destroyed
Nearly 1,000,000 people evcauted
Over 6,000 firefighters, aided by the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Guard, and 3,000 prisoners convicted of non-violent crimes
Santa Ana Wind, Drought, and the increasing number of homes built in canyons and on hillsides surrounded by brush and forest
A backyard destroyed by the Oakland Hills Firestorm
Ariel shot of a neighborhood leveled by the Oakland Hills Firestorm
Cars stream along a Southern California highway as wildfires rage across the mountains
California budget
Exhausted its initial firefighting budget of $209 million for the 2014 fiscal year just three months after the year began.
Borrow money from $70 million in a reserve fund as an additional $450 million was set aside for economic uncertainties.
As of October 1st, 2014, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had responded to nearly 5,000 fires, which was about 1,200 more than average through the first nine months of the calendar year and "state of emergencies" had been declared in 14 California counties.
Water in the Golden State
California Drought
Aug., 2014:
100% of California was considered to be in a drought, while over 80% of the state was in an “exceptional drought."
Sept., 2014:
Governor Brown declared a "state of emergency" while state’s reservoirs were below 60% of their historical average.
Drought & Agribusiness
$2.2 Billion in Losses
17,000 Jobs Lost in Agribusiness
$203 Million in Losses in Livestock Industry
Additional $500 Million in Groundwater Pumping Cost
*Source: Jim Carlton, “California Drought Will Cost $2.2 Billion in Agricultural Losses This Year,”
Wall Street Journal
, July 5th, 2014
Lakes and Reservoirs
Human-made for water storage and recreation
Reached record lows (2014-2015)
As of October of 2014, 8 out of the State’s 12 major reservoirs were at or below 30% capacity - Shasta Reservoir (24%) and Lake Oroville (28%). San Luis Reservoir (20%).
75% of the state’s water supply comes from areas north of Sacramento, while 80% of the water demand occurs in the lower two-thirds of the state.
CNN news clip on California’s drought – Sept., 2014
Los Angeles and Water
With imports of 8.9 billion liters per day from distant rivers, L.A. ranks first in the world in cross-basin water transfers.
Mike Reicher, “Rash of Water Main Breaks Actually the Norm in Los Angeles Area,”
Los Angeles Daily News
, September 13, 2014.
Dry Colorado River Delta and Owens Valley
L.A. receives as much as 1 billion gallons per day from the Colorado River
U.S. Dept. of Interior
U.S. Dept. of Interior
The Colorado River has barely trickled into the Gulf of California for the last twenty-plus years, at times, failing to reach the gulf
Los Angeles’s Department of Water and Power (DWP) reported 754 leaks in the city’s water system between January and September of 2014. In 2013, the DWP reported 1,068 water leaks, an average of 2.9 per day.
Sandra Postel, “World’s Large Cities Move Water Equivalent to Ten Colorado Rivers to Meet their Annual Water Needs,”
National Geographic
, June 6, 2014.
Changes in the Landscape
California Pop., 2014:
Over 38 million
The era of suburban sprawl and unprecedented growth has ended in some corners of California.
Loma Prieta Earthquake, Oct. 17, 1989
6.9 shock
63 deaths and over 3,800 injuries
$6 billion in damage
Over 12,000 homes and 2,600 businesses; 40 structures collapsed
1.6 mile long Cypress Street Viaduct (880 Freeway; originally constructed in 1957) collapsed killed 42 people
Road and freeway damage
The Cypress Street Viaduct after the earthquake
Early Footage of Loma Prieta Aftermath
Northridge Earthquake, Jan. 17, 1994
6.7 Shock
57 people dead and more than 8,000 injured (1,600 were hospitalized)
$20 billion in damage (making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history)
Major freeway damage
5 days after the earthquake an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 people still did not have access to public water
Over 200 cases of “valley fever” (inhaling of airborne spores and fungus; 3 people died)
Partition/Succession Movements
Attempts to divide California into two or more separate states dates back into the nineteenth century
More than 200 proposals since statehood was granted in 1850
"South California" & "California"
In 2011, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone (Republican) proposed to turn Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono counties into a state known as “South California.”
Stone shared one of the thousands of letters and emails he received in a July 12th, 2011
New York Times
article. “I’m 59 and have lived here all my life,” one man from Anaheim wrote. “I’m about to leave the state, but if we could break from the liberal counties I’d stay. God bless you and let me know if I can help.”
Jennifer Medina, “California Counties Talk of Cutting Ties to State,”
New York Times
, July 12, 2011
"Jefferson State"
Northern Calif. north of Sacramento and southern Oregon
Renewed attempt in 2013-2014
2 county supervisors in Siskiyou and Modoc County voted to start a bid to have Northern California succeed from Southern California as the state of Jefferson.
Attempted to obtain support from 12 other counties, but only a few (Glenn, Yuba, and Tehama) joined their cause.
Los Angeles Times
November 28, 1941

"Six Californias"
Venture capitalist Tim Draper submitted a proposal to California’s Attorney General to break California into six states
The proposed states would have been named Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California, and South California
Draper argued that California was ungovernable because of its size and that breaking the region into six states would allow for more efficient governing.
Critics argued that the plan separated California’s wealthy and poor areas and diminished the state’s power as a Democratic party-supporting state.
"los Angeles is Burning" by Bad Religion (2007)
November 18, 1991
April 19, 1993
"Get it While You Can" by the Dirtbombs, 2003
Folson Lake, March 2016
1989 World Series - Game 3
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