The billion-dollar disastrous clouds had their silver linings

 

Last updated 10/27/2007 at Noon



Well, just like everybody else in Fallbrook and surrounding areas, the Village News was forced to evacuate our business, families, animals and all our most prized possessions.

While we are still not sure how long we will be away from the comfort of our homes, we are mourning the devastation of our beautiful town and our friends’ lost homes.

As the paper staff took turns all day handling business, the other staff members prepared to evacuate.

It was like something I’ve never experienced before to find our “important papers,” our IDs, some of our favorite pictures, a change of clothes, and just walk away with a peace, knowing that our most valued things were actually family and friends who were all safe.

If we lost everything it would be terribly inconvenient, but we would certainly survive.

At the Village News we had more grievous concerns since our historic wood Victorian office was built in 1884. It would be a terrible loss.

In addition, we had to figure out what we needed to be able to build newspapers and finish covering the story from a post out of town with a greatly reduced staff.

We had to dismantle computer networks and gather important files. Then there were concerns regarding staff members who would stay behind and cover the fires. We grabbed hard drives and a server and loaded the vehicles.

As we got serious about leaving, some of us had places to go and others didn’t. It always encourages me to see people reaching out to each other. Then there was the actual exodus from town. Lines were continuous for miles. Gas stations ran out of gas.


We decided to leave through De Luz and head north to Murrieta. As we came to each turn in the road throughout De Luz, there were helpful volunteers standing in the road to point everyone in the right direction out from harm’s way. Thank you.


After losing the ability to put together the Village News and the Valley News papers with our usual staff and facilities we started a different plan.

Without all the technology and communications conveniences we use every day, we made the hard choice to put out one combined special edition to serve all of our residents.

In addition, we knew it was crucial to keep the Web sites continuously updated, which, from the feedback we’ve received, people have appreciated.

So, we hope that all our readers appreciate the “unique” special fire edition this week. The community news that we typically print will be delivered next week.

I sincerely appreciate our advertisers who supported the special edition and who continually support their community by supporting our local paper. We also greatly appreciate the staff at the Keller Williams Realty office on Madison in Temecula.


After we all had our families safe with friends, relatives, or in shelters, we were homeless with our laptop computers and hard drives in our cars.

First, the Temecula Unified School District graciously allowed us to use their offices, and then we worked for 48 hours in the Keller Williams conference room.

They were absolute lifesavers for us. It allowed us the privilege of serving thousands of people via Web and then print. People were desperate for information and news concerning what was going on in their community and their homes and neighborhoods. We are so thankful.


My dedicated staff was then able to produce a wonderful paper under desperate circumstances. They’ve done it before – once after a flood and this time during a firestorm. I am so proud of them that words cannot express. You really learn what people are made of when disaster strikes.

We will continue to post information and stories on http://www.thevillagenews.com and http://www.myvalleynews.com and post our readers’ experiences as well as our own.

Thank you also to everyone who continues to network and feed us information that they believe is helpful to the rest of the community.

Thank you, most of all, to the firefighters, agencies and volunteers in Southern California who worked together and welcomed our residents into their communities.

This could have been devastatingly worse with loss of lives and property. But remember, there were many things that went right. The reverse 9-1-1 worked beautifully and the disaster preparedness planning was evident. Good job, everybody; I’m proud of our communities.


 

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