This weekend, fire-weary Malibuites made their way home to relief or grief or both. But they also came back to Malibu spirit. Just think of all the homeowners and businesses hurt. One near the old Tavern 1 on PCH, which opened just days ago. With the lights off and the ice melting, expensive fillets and fish were hitting their expiration dates. There were no customers, not even a watt of electricity to keep cash registers ringing for a cola or a candy bar. So, they did any self-respecting Malibu merchant would do—they gave them away for free, as did many others.
But neighbors knew we were in this together. We’ve been here before. My husband, Barry, and our fur babies, Bugger and Squeaker, were stressed; everyone was stressed. Trying to keep my rubber heels from melting, I had the pleasure of thanking a lot of people on the lines personally. Speaking to a “shelter-in-place” person whom I know quite well, I asked why she stayed with no TV, no electricity, no Cher, no nothing. She laughed and said, “With all your flashy, fancy, expensive electronics and high-end gear, you’ll still be in the dark or you can take that high octane Ferrari for a scorching bumper-to-bumper drive on PCH.” She followed the fire path all the way thanks to a 40-year-old battery-operated transistor radio and KNX all-news radio. (Very low tech but it worked.) I guess there’s something to those luddites.
After the Carbon and Malibu Canyon fires that came ripping through my end of town, I put my emergency pack together the second I could find a hardware store and, let me be clear dear reader, I suggest you put one together immediately—not tomorrow, not tonight, now!
Mine wasn’t terribly fancy: water, baby wipes, three good flashlights, tuna for cats and people, medication and more batteries, and of course, that precious transistor radio.
Amazingly, in making the rounds, I found so many generous neighbors who stayed open and expressed my appreciation, Duke’s, Ralphs, Country Mart and D’Amore’s pizza all opened their doors with their restrooms as well as ice cream sandwiches and cold water available. Ralphs was closed for a spell but you could easily find everything from soap to diapers, toys to toothpaste and, of course, reasonable Chardonnay at the Country Mart and Liquor. When I worked in TV news, I did a lot of crime beats so I am somewhat familiar the drill. I poked my head out the door to get some info from a LASD newbie who covers a rough part of South Central. As always, I expressed my appreciation on behalf of the community. “It’s our job,” the slender young officer replied, “But, wow! Everyone is so nice here. Everybody gives you a wave. Where I work, residents give you wave, too, but it’s a different kind of wave.”
Bravo, Malibu. Luck be with us, my precious angel.
Kim Devore has been a longtime resident and staff writer at The Malibu Times for 23 years. She has survived and covered three major fires and evacuations.