Jonathan Kraut | Forget Trump: Here’s the Real Danger We Face

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

I believe there is too much talk and distraction with anything Trump.  

I ignore his agreements and disagreements with himself, even when in the same sentence. I am tuning out his many threats and shallow retractions. I no longer care what he does and does not do.

Reminded by recent events, my attention has rightfully turned elsewhere. The real crisis, pending and feared by many, is not in Washington. 

Just Monday last week anyone driving north around 5 p.m. on Highway 14 past the Newhall Avenue exit witnessed an all-out battle on the hillside a quarter-mile to the west. Scores of helicopter drops, clusters of firefighters clad in yellow helmets, and a fleet of red vehicles with vibrant flashing lights finally defeated perhaps our most prevalent threat: natural disaster.

Our real crisis this summer through late fall, as every year, threatens us statewide. It affects all of Southern California. It is here in our valley. It is wildfire.

And remember that massive earthquake is also due.

Although a few apartments were damaged by flames racing up steep terrain in Newhall the other day, once again we were saved. The experience, wisdom, ability to deploy vast resources, and the phenomenal skill and bravery of our firefighters prevented the loss of dozens of apartment structures and possibly saved hundreds of lives.

Having a home in the Fair Oaks neighborhood above Canyon Country, we have experienced at least 10 mandatory evacuations since 2001. I can’t recall a year that wildfire did not strike our fair valley.

Each of you reading this will know we have fires here. We live in a dry climate shadowed by steep terrain coverage with fire-prone brush like manzanita, wild buckwheat and creosote.

And California is riddled with fault lines. The Santa Clara riverbed essentially is a fault line running to the sea and our fair town is precariously cradled along this 50-mile crack in the earth.

While President Trump may anger a lot of citizens and international allies alike, his words are not causing the loss of whole neighborhoods like the 1,000 homes lost in Redding fires this year, the Montecito mudslide killing 17, or the 5,000 homes that burned to the ground in Santa Rosa last year.

Fire and mudslides hit in an instant, hit hard, often resulting in the death of our most brave, and devastate families for a lifetime. Wildfires, mudslides, earthquakes, and who knows what else pose the real threats to us all. 

But have you thought what it takes to be ready should any natural disaster strike?

While so proud of how the L.A. County deputies and firefighters always rise to the challenges that crisis presents, I have to pause to also acknowledge we the taxpayers. It is us who pay our fair share that supports smart planners and skilled leaders. It is the taxpayers who invest in the constant training and equipping of possibly the most ready and capable local fire and law enforcement agencies our nation has ever seen.

I complain about double-dipping government employees who come back to work after already getting retirement pay, the millions wasted on state technology projects that go nowhere, and state legislator tax scams that promise to cut costs but actually con voters into increasing our debt and taxation rates. I distress over high government budgets and international trade blunders. But wildfire and natural disasters are the real threats.

Whether you dwell or work on a hillside or are embedded somewhere on level ground in the valley, embers floating for up to half a mile can land on anyone’s roof, waft into any attic, or jump a highway with ease. There is no one in the Santa Clarita Valley immune to the havoc of a wildfire or earthquake.

If there is to be a special tax, an extra assessment, or bond measure to support our heroes who need to constantly train and equip themselves to keep us safe, count on my full support.

If there is to be a draft of our young adults for battle, so long as it is on the fire line or the rebuild after an earthquake, I am for it.

If there is a call to action for volunteers to muster to protect our neighborhoods, count me in.

Living here these 20 plus years I have learned that rhetoric might hurt, but it does not burn, crumble highways, or knock out power. Bad policies make life uncomfortable, but they do not destroy homes, crumble infrastructure, or cause instant death. 

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CFO of a private security firm, is the COO at an acting conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.

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