Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Clogged highways slow travel
If one goes by the Woody Allen adage that 90 percent of success is showing up, then we better knock 'em dead with the other 10 percent.

Right now, CNN Producer Katherine Wojtecki is driving as we head from Malibu to San Diego, literally going from fire to fire. Yesterday, we left our homes in the Midwest. We got up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight to LA, then did live shots in Malibu for CNN and local affiliates of the network. The fires are a huge international story, and it seems everyone wants a live shot.

Twenty-four hours after we began, with smoke-filled eyes and Katherine fighting a cold and coughing from smoke, we crashed at a nearby hotel. But first we did the math -- we'll allow three hours to travel 135 miles to the next location, we told ourselves. It'll be enough.

Stupid us. We just didn't figure that the normally clogged freeways of Southern California would get overhwelmed by the fires. Seems like everyone's trying to escape something.

Sure, we told our managers about the possible delay, and we got the old "just keep going and be safe," but in this business, if there's one thing I hate, it's being late. Wish us luck.

-- By Keith Oppenheim, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 1:47 PM ET
  7 Comments
i'm watching the wildfires on cnn and all the houses burning and i feel bad, but i want to make a bet 5 bucks say that these homes will be replaced before homes in katrina ravaged areas and my problem with it is this. These people in california have a better chance on getting their homes replaced on their own with their own money but they will get top bill with insurance and the government....that's just my feeling
Posted By timothy clement, millville NJ : 2:23 PM ET
The fire looks horrific and scary as "hell". Stay safe and watch the winds, they are so unpredictable. My cousin lives in San Diego, we have not heard from him since Sunday. My thoughts and prayers are with all the people affected by this storm.
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 2:31 PM ET
Best of luck Keith and everyone there, whether covering or living this story. Be safe everyone, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Posted By Jennifer, Washington DC : 2:48 PM ET
Good luck!
Posted By Stacy, St. Louis, MO : 3:25 PM ET
It would be wonderful for local residents of the San Diego and Los Angeles areas if major news agencies could pass along MAPS showing where the fires are RIGHT NOW. Not USA-Today style maps with cute little icons, but real maps, with timestamped fire-perimeters, wind direction, areas still at risk, etc.
Such timely information would allow citizens to properly prepare for evacuations and to make informed decisions about risk levels to themselves, their loved ones and to their property. The alternative to having real, actionable information is the status-quo; citizens are informed late by over-taxed officials, and roads and infrastructure become clogged by frantic, last-minute evacuees.
It would be great if CNN could aggregate and publish real information (where available) as part of their coverage of disasters and catastrophes.
Posted By Michael : 3:52 PM ET
Best of luck to you Keith. While you may hate being late, unfortunately there seems to be plenty of fire to cover and it doesn't look like it will end anytime soon. When you get there, I'm sure you will do your usual good job. Just stay safe and stay lucky throughout this horrible ordeal.

Annie Kate
Birmingham, AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 8:15 PM ET
Are you kidding me? You are concerned about clogged freeways when there are people in the area going thru the worst moments of their lives! They have lost everything they once owned and will be displaced for a very long time.
Wish you luck? You must be joking! How insensitive!
Posted By J.E. Burnett - Stillwater, MN : 12:27 PM ET
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