Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Evacuees find 'Qual-calm' stadium
All is surreal at Qualcomm Stadium, where 10,000 fire evacuees have taken up temporary refuge.

Sizhont Chan sits behind me in a stadium seat, checking to see if he can get back into his Scripps Ranch neighborhood. He and his buddies are scanning for any news on a laptop. They all slept last night on the floor. But they say it was calm.

A burly National Guardsman named Wes says he was brought over from the border, and everyone is behaving. The people here are dressed as if they might be attending a day game. They're in shorts and t-shirts, and many eat ice cream handed out by volunteers.

There are cots, tents and RVs ringing the stadium. In an unscientific survey, most folks say they actually slept during their first night here -- except an older man who says some kids got loud at night. The insurance agents are here in force and so are medical staff. Word just came over a loudspeaker that lunch will be served soon.

The football field here is painted red and black in the end zones for San Diego State. Between the two painted end zones, the green field is resplendent with sun -- a serene contrast to the orange inferno that pushed all the refugees into this stadium.

-- By Paul Vercammen, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 3:38 PM ET
  12 Comments
I've been watching the coverage all day and it's really great to see that everyone is pitching in to help the evacuees. As long as the bureaucrats don't get involved things seem to work out better. Too bad FEMA and other government agencies can't stop and look at what the average person can accomplish with just a little heart and compassion.

Sending prayers to all affected by this disaster.
Posted By Marcia, Warren MI : 4:21 PM ET
Please be reminded regarding the superdome during Hurricane Katrina, that they did not have electricity, nor did they have running water. I am glad for the folks in California that they do have electricity and running water, otherwise it could become a miserable existance for everyone. Also the city of NO was inaccessable due to rising water.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all.
Posted By sharon munday : 5:25 PM ET
Marcia fr Warren MI makes a good point that regular everyday folks are the same or better than the government at "managing" disasters and people. Therefore do not vote for any candidate who wants to tax us to death (that would be the Democrats) because they believe the GOVERNMENT should take over all the parts of your life.
Posted By natalie j , baltimore, md : 7:51 PM ET
Isn't it interesting how the rich folks in California have more support than the poor folks in New Orleans. I'm sorry for anybody losing their homes for whatever reason but we must say that if you're wealthy there appears to be more support. Is it because Arnold Schwarznegger is the governor? Possibly. Or has America learned that everyone has to pitch in? God bless you all though!

M. Sophia in Ontario, Canada
Posted By M. Sophia, Ontario, Canada : 9:41 PM ET
I watched the show last night and was disappointed to see everyone at the stadium having such a good time dancing and playing music, laughing it up while we are supposed to be concerned, keeping them in our thoughts and praying for their safety. The music was so loud that it was difficult to hear what Anderson was saying.

They don't appear to care much about the fires and their homes burning so why should we?
Posted By Anonymous : 9:10 AM ET
To Anonymous at 9:10: They should be weeping and wailing and being generally miserable, right? Instead of making the best of a situation about which they can, at the moment, do nothing? Frankly, I'm glad they're able to keep their heads up, and I respect them for being able to at least be glad they're still alive.
I hope they keep on dancing and laughing.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:34 PM ET
RE: Sophia, Ontario Canada. The response has nothing to do with rich or poor. Further it has nothing to do with our Govenor. It has everything to do with the compassion and resilience that Californians exhibit in times of tradgedy or disaster, and their willingness to put their fellow humans wellbeing before their own.

From a proud Californian for 38 yrs.
Posted By Gary T. : 2:05 PM ET
Wow anonymous at 12:34, I'll dance my butt off when your house burns!
Posted By Anonymous : 3:35 PM ET
This is in reference to the anonymous writer about the music and dancing at the stadium. Maybe I too would prefer a quiet corner to read, but this is not a normal situation. At a time like this everyone needs to reach out to each other.

I think you didn’t expect it because of what we all saw during Katrina, the difference is like night and day.

As for last night, those entertainers must be volunteers that wanted to come and do something to help the dear people there. It made me smile. I think that had a lot to do with helping to distract the children too. They must be so scared, those poor kids. That young boy Anderson kindly interviewed last night with his adorable dog was so sweet but obviously worried. Plus the entertainment gives parents a moment of distraction too, and everyone else.

Besides, I would assume that if it was quiet as a tomb it might even be scarier for the kids? Or everyone crying their eyes out? That would probably not be too helpful either. Understatement.

Maybe the loud music wasn’t for everyone but it was done for such a good purpose. It has been really sweet to see everyone pitching in to help there.

Hmmmm. Anyway, it’s a good thing I didn’t sing for them! That would NOT have cheered them up!

Smiles from Areti :D
Posted By Areti in Canada : 5:34 PM ET
This is nothing like Hurricane Katrina. A lot of people hopelessly watched their family members die during Katrina. In this case, people are losing their homes, but, for the most part, not their loved ones. I know I would be devastated to lose my home, but losing material possessions is nothing compared to losing a life. Also, it's ludicrous to say that people are getting more help because they're rich and New Orleans residents were poor. The situation in New Orleans was much more sudden and severe; having everything underwater makes it a little hard to do anything. Or maybe, just maybe, California has better leadership.???
Posted By emily, nc : 6:20 PM ET
don't act like this isn't something we should look at. katrina , firestorm:white , black.
Posted By Anonymous : 5:14 AM ET
In reference To Emily and anonymous,

Emily and anonymous you are so right – I totally agree and realize that the Katrina situation was a horrific disaster and different in scope. I am sorry and I wish I had clarified it as I don’t wish to add to anyone’s pain.

What I am referring to is how we FELT as we watched the Katrina event unfold. When we saw everyone in that New Orleans stadium without food and water. The desperation of it all. It was terrifying to witness.

That stadium were cut off and we as strangers could not get into our cars and drive there to help them. No one seemed to be able to get to them. It was so AWFUL and EXCRUCIATING to helplessly sit watching them on TV. I can barely even write about it. I felt and still feel so sick about it. There are no words to describe it. I truly cannot even write at this moment.........

When I refer to difference in 'Qual-calm' I truly feel that many of these dear volunteers and people ran as fast as they could to donate or do something. Anything. Sing. Dance. Juggle. Give free massages. Anything. Anything.

I found it so sweet and it made me smile. It showed how people will come through once they understand and know.

We never forgot what happened in Katrina. I know if I was there I could not get to that Stadium fast enough to do something, just anything for the people there. If only to do it in HONOR of the poor people who suffered in that stadium during Katrina.

I truly do not compare the 2 disasters in themselves, but do compare the FEELINGS of wishing desperately to help dear people in need. The desire and ABILITY to do so. After all it is one thing to desire to do something and it is another to have the ability to do so.

I feel there is the strongest sentiment among us to NEVER ever have to see anyone evacuated ever be without anything they need. Never.

I kindly realize it must cause the dear people who went through the disaster in Katrina the greatest pain to have anyone compare. Or compare it themselves. Comparing hurts beyond words. I’m sorry and wish things could have been so different.

Katrina changed all of us forever and we won’t forget. We will not forget. We know they are still struggling too, some on the brink of suicide from what we saw on AC360 in August 2007. It is so distressing. How can it ever be expressed in words?

Thank you so much for allowing me to express my feelings from Areti in Canada




How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank
Posted By Anonymous : 4:22 PM ET
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