|Dear Oakland Community,
After our second week of school, I write to you with a heavy heart because of all that’s happening in our world right now. As if a life-altering pandemic wasn’t enough, last week we had that sweltering heatwave, which was punctuated by the surprising and extremely dangerous lightning storm. As we know, lightning during a long dry summer can wreak havoc on our environment. That’s exactly what’s happening around the Bay Area.
For the past week you haven’t even needed to leave your house to smell that telltale sign of a wildfire. The air has been thick with smoke, making it hard to breathe, just like we have seen several times in recent years. What’s worse is that these fires seem to be burning everywhere: in Napa, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, in Contra Costa County and Vacaville. There was even a fire near Highway 580 in Oakland.
My heart aches for all the people who have lost their lives, their loved ones, and their property and pets. I know that some of our staff live in areas that have been affected by this region wide firestorm. For anyone near the fire lines, please stay safe. If the authorities tell you to evacuate, I implore you to do so immediately. Things can be replaced, your life cannot. It’s even a good idea if you live in these areas to pack a ready bag to be prepared to leave quickly. If you are anywhere near a fire, get your valuables together, including important papers and family heirlooms, put them in a bag and have it where you can grab it easily on the way out. Also, pack some clothes and toiletries just in case you have to spend the night elsewhere. As for the smoke, when it’s bad, stay inside with the doors and windows shut when you can, and please be careful outside, especially if you have respiratory issues.
It truly seems like Mother Nature has had enough. But I know that just like the pandemic will pass, the firefighters will get these fires under control, saving countless homes and lives in the process. I also know we will get through this smokey air in the coming days and things will return to normal, or at least as close to normal as possible during our shelter in place.
I know you join me in thanking the firefighters and other first responders for putting their lives on the line all over the region to put out these fires, and in wishing for strength for all people who have lost so much, and the thousands of people who have had to evacuate their homes for an undetermined amount of time.
Life is throwing a lot at our state right now. But as California always does, we will survive and thrive.
Wishing you peace, rest and skies that clear sometime soon.
| Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell
What do you think?