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Profiteering from Californian wildfires

(25 Posts)
Esspee Tue 13-Nov-18 09:57:50

In Southern California on Friday the wind changed direction and my son and family were ordered (along with 250,000 others throughout the state) to evacuate their home. They reacted quickly and managed to get on the freeway before gridlock. Using the Internet my daughter-in-law tried to find accommodation for them while my son coped with the manic traffic. Yes, there were rooms available, but prices had been hiked to obscene levels. Eventually, having driven 200 miles they found a place at $350 a night!
Communication for the evacuees has been non existent. Their source of information is CNN and the like. They do not know if their home still exists and even if it does there are fears about asbestos from old burned out properties and radioactivity from the abandoned nuclear facility near Simi Valley which has gone up in smoke.
My lovely granddaughters are enjoying themselves immensely. They have been allowed to watch endless children's TV in their hotel and have been isolated from all news bulletins. (Usual rule is no TV weekdays, 2hrs max at weekends) They delightedly showed me their new t shirts on FaceTime. I had to fight back the tears.
If, best case scenario, they have a home to go back to, how can they be prepared for the horror stories the other children have to tell of their homes burning down.
I have offered to pay for my d-i-l and the children to come and stay with me but I doubt that will happen.
Now as we wait for news I am raging that businesses are choosing to take advantage of the tragedy by bumping up their charges to impossible levels. They should be named and shamed.
No idea why I am offloading on here. I just feel so angry that I am unable to help them and other people/businesses are happy to take advantage of their plight.

Jalima1108 Tue 13-Nov-18 10:33:12

Esspee I am so sorry to hear that and the fact that others are taking advantage and not helping their fellow citizens without wanting to make more profit.

Your story reminded me of the wartime 'spivs' and black marketeers, taking advantage of the misery of others.

The pictures we are seeing are horrendous; I have seen fires in Australia and been worried when they got close to my family's house but I haven't seen any on the scale of this.

Perhaps they can be persuaded to come to stay with you because this is going to take a long time to clear up and rebuild.


Esspee Tue 13-Nov-18 11:13:05

Thank you Jalima. My son would need to stay there for work and if (God forbid) their home is burned down then he will need to sort out the resulting nightmare of insurance, rebuilding etcetera.

gillybob Tue 13-Nov-18 11:17:19

Terribly sad Esspee sad

As Jalima said you always get this kind of horrible profiteering in times of crisis . Making money from other people’s misery angry.

I do hope your family are all okay and their home is still there when they return . So worrying .

Esspee Tue 13-Nov-18 11:26:38

Thank you gillybob. One of the children's friends family were out of state fortunately. Their house is completely destroyed. Have asked about their horses but my son doesn't know.
Nearby Zuma Beach is being used for livestock. I have seen photos of llamas (or perhaps alpacas) and horses tied up to the lifeguard stations, barely visible through the smoke.

Oldwoman70 Tue 13-Nov-18 11:29:03

It's hard to believe people can be so uncaring. I sincerely hope your family are OK. I am finding it hard to look at the pictures we are being shown so can't imagine how hard it must be for you, your son and his family.

Esspee Tue 13-Nov-18 11:53:08

Thank you OW.
News is that the fire is partially contained in their area and unconfirmed reports from nearby are that the fire hasn't reached there. Apparently it is eerily deserted, covered in a layer of ash.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 13-Nov-18 11:55:39

Thoughts and prayers for you and your family x

PamelaJ1 Tue 13-Nov-18 11:55:57

At least they are safe and you know that they are. You are saved the worry of not knowing.
Those poor poor people. One man today said it’s a sort of freedom even though not very welcome. A he looked as though he was about to cry I’m not sure he was convinced.
People will also want to make a fast buck out of others misery. Some others will be extremely generous and welcome the survivors into their communities. Takes all sorts.

Esspee Tue 13-Nov-18 12:18:50

Thank you Granny and Pamela. They are safe, which is wonderful.
Apparently there is a wide divide between what is being reported and what my son has seen with his own eyes or heard from friends and neighbours. We have more important things to discuss at the moment but I will follow up on that with him once everything is more normal.

PECS Tue 13-Nov-18 13:33:31

Profiteers are a scourge of human disaster. Flood, fire, famine and war: there will be people who do not see suffering just profit & opportunity
So glad you know your family is safe x

EllanVannin Tue 13-Nov-18 13:45:49

This is a most disgusting practice carried out by those who see profit as soon as there's been a disaster. I always hope that something bad happens to these inhumane grasping individuals who dare to add more misery to those poor souls who've suffered such devastation. I can't think of anything worse.

sodapop Tue 13-Nov-18 14:59:25

That is such a horrible thing to happen to your family Esspee I am so glad they are safe at least.
Unfortunately there will always be people who try to profit from the misfortune of others, that is a sad fact of life.
I hope everyone involved is being cared for and that help will be forthcoming in the next difficult months and years.

BlueBelle Tue 13-Nov-18 15:05:04

So glad your family is safe but such a worrying time for you all nothing more I can add awful that people are profiteering from such a terrible tragedy I hope if their house has gone they can perhaps move to a safer place

Esspee Tue 13-Nov-18 17:30:25

Thank you so much everyone. Great news. Evacuation orders have been lifted in Agoura Hills, they know that their home is still standing but as hotel insisted on payment in advance (non-refundable) they won't be leaving and going home until tomorrow. Makes sense as the air quality can only improve.
Children are still having a great time. Thanks again for your concern.

NfkDumpling Tue 13-Nov-18 17:35:13

Thank goodness, thats good news. Hopefully their home will not have been too singed. The frequency of these fires is really worrying.

Bathsheba Tue 13-Nov-18 17:36:40

Oh what a terrible worry this has been for you Esspee, but thank heavens they are all safe. And such good news that they've now discovered their home has not been destroyed. Now for them to return and see what devastation has been caused in their neighbourhood. It'll be a shock, but they will be able to get back to some sort of normality fairly soon I hope.

Canarygirl1 Tue 13-Nov-18 21:40:39

hope your family will soon be able to return to their home It is such a long way from us and not easy to help.

Eloethan Wed 14-Nov-18 00:09:08

Unfortunately I think it is an example of what Heath (I think) referred to as "the unacceptable face of capitalism". In reality, though, the notion of supply and demand dictating what price can be charged is, I believe, central to how capitalism works. Sadly, it's those hard-nosed people who are willing to profit from the misfortunes of others who benefit the most in these situations.

So sorry to hear about your family's situation Esspee. I hope that eventually things get back to some sort of normality for them.

Boogaloo Wed 14-Nov-18 02:47:08

Different States have different laws concerning Price Gouging. Here is the law in California:

Selling commodities, household essentials, fuel, etc. after a declared state of emergency for more than 10% over the cost of these items immediately preceding the declaration.
Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 yr. in jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine; civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation (plus injunction and restitution).

There is no 'forced' evacuation here in the United States. They call it 'mandatory' evacuation, but it is not. They cannot make you leave BUT if you do leave and try to come back before the emergency is over or contained they will prevent you from going home.

Some people here were hauling out horses and when they went back for another load the police prevented them and I discovered that is even against the law. I am not in California btw.

absent Wed 14-Nov-18 03:36:57

One of the aspects of New Zealand culture that I really admire is how people "muck in" to help others in trouble. Bricklayers, plumbers, plasterers, painters, carpenters have all turned up and worked without pay on numerous occasions when a family's home has been destroyed; it happens most often, understandably, if there is a sick parent or a disabled child. Funds are raised on the internet, neighbours wrangle blankets, cots, beds, kitchen equipment, toys and, perhaps most importantly food. There is still a very strong sense of community here and long may it last.

Esspee Wed 14-Nov-18 06:30:08

Thank you again everyone for your concern.
Boogaloo I am going to pass your info to my son. I suspect he will however be too swamped with things to do to act on it. Wish I could raise a stink from here. Some naming and shaming is in order.
Absent my abiding memory of NZ is having to have keys cut when putting the home of a deceased relative on the market. The door hadn't been locked in the 20+ years they'd lived there.

Jalima1108 Wed 14-Nov-18 13:29:32

I think there is too, here, absent, despite all the problems that dominate the news. Ordinary people rally round to help others in need.

Esspee Thu 15-Nov-18 08:40:23

p.s. My son's family are now back home. A very thorough cleaning will have to be done but many have lost everything so they have cause to be grateful.
The school board has sent out a comprehensive circular detailing how the schools are going to be cleaned, childcare options while closed, and counselling srvices available for affected children.
I am so thankful they have escaped the worst and my heart goes out to all (especially children) who may be scarred for life from the experience.

annieway Sat 17-Nov-18 17:57:37

I live in Los Angeles. We had some smoke but are not near any of the fires. While I agree that there are probably some hotels that are gouging, and this one may be, but $350 is not an unusually high nightly charge here for a hotel room.

What I have seen in my area is an outpouring of help for human and animal victims of the fire. People are taking in animals and humans that have been displaced, taking them into their homes all over the area. Airbnb hosts have opened their units often at no charge for families who have had to evacuate. My veterinarian's office and other organizations are collecting pet food and crates to help accommodate dog and cat rescues. I've been very impressed with the response of the community.