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Fake News And Distrustful Government Leadership During Disasters

Why does no one ever read the news about non-political issues? When it comes to Natural Disasters, it seems as if there has been a lot of smoke recently. Constantly, we hear that such events are the “Worst” in history. Recent flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston, Texas region was described as the worst damage ever caused by a hurricane. Not true. They told us that such a flood in that region was unprecedented, which is also untrue; Houston experiences major floods at least twice a decade; yes, this was the worst in years, but hardly the worst in history – just more people are now being displaced by the flooding.

The following week, a large brush fire (named the La Tuna Fire) broke out in Southern California, in LA County near Burbank and Glendale, California. It burned more than 7,000 acres. He told us it was the largest fire in Los Angeles County’s history; he looked directly into the TV cameras and blatantly lied. It was not the most destructive or expensive wildfire or brush fire, nor did it cause the most property damage or cost. Not even remotely.

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For example, from September 28 to October 6, 2005, the Topanga Fire burned 24,175 acres; or from August 26 to October 16, 2009, the Station Fire burned 160,577 acres, destroyed 209 structures, and claimed two lives. The Springs Fire, which began in Ventura County on May 2, 2013, burned 24,000 acres, of which 8,000 or more acres were in Los Angeles County.

In fact, there are still brush burn scars on the trails – when you go hiking, burned-out brush will still smear charcoal on your legs when you run against it. Believe me, I am an avid trail runner, and I frequently return with black stripes on my legs from fires that occurred nearly a decade ago. Indeed, during the La Tuna Fire, the firefighters were aided by a rainstorm that significantly slowed the fire’s spread, and it was extinguished swiftly.

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Why so much fake news? I believe it is so that politicians can claim “devastation” in order to direct more Federal and State funds from Emergency Disaster Relief Funds to the region. So that they can receive more funding from the federal government to pay for aerial fire tanker support and to enhance their own standing as they run for governor or seek re-election as mayor. Regardless of the reason, they are aware that they are not telling the truth and believe that “we” the citizens are so stupid and have such short memories that we cannot tell the difference between the truth and the lie, or that we may be duped because the media keeps repeating the lie.

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Where are the Verifiers of Facts? I dare to ask? Why do Fire Chiefs, Police Chiefs, and Public Work Administrators stand next to these politicians and remain silent when they know the truth? It took them decades to become department heads; could it be that they became department heads by going along with the flow and living the lie in exchange for high-paying jobs, pensions, and benefits? Even more frightening when considering this trend.

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