California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires

People flock to the beach in Venice Beach, California to escape the heat wave on September 4, 2020. (AFP / Robyn Beck)
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Updated 05 September 2020

California braces for record-setting heatwave, more fires

  • Death Valley — located near California's border with Nevada — recording a high of 130 degrees F (54.4 C), one of the hottest

LOS ANGELES: California is bracing for record-breaking temperatures and dangerous fire weather conditions this Labor Day weekend, with the National Weather Service urging people to limit outdoor activity and to stay hydrated.
“Saturday and Sunday will be about 20 to 30 degrees above normal across the entire area,” Frank Fisher, a NWS meteorologist for the southern part of the state, told AFP.
“By Monday, we should be 10 to 20 degrees above normal ... but still very warm and dangerous outside,” he added.
Fisher said temperatures are expected to peak to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42.2 Celsius) in the Los Angeles area on Sunday and to 118 Fahrenheit (47.8 Celsius) further inland in Woodland Hills.
Excessive heat warnings through the holiday weekend and possibly beyond have also been issued in other western states including Arizona and Nevada.
The warm temperatures in California come as the state is recovering from another heat wave in mid-August and devastating wildfires that have burned some 1.5 million acres in the last three weeks.
That heat wave also set records, with Death Valley — located near the border with Nevada — recording a high of 130 degrees, one of the hottest temperatures ever measured on Earth with modern instruments.
Weather forecasters said red flag warnings indicating the potential for dangerous fire conditions had been issued in many parts of California for the weekend, notably in the Santa Barbara mountains, north of Los Angeles.
“We have the heat, winds and low humidity,” a perfect cocktail for fires, Fisher said.
“Our big issue with this excessive heat,” he added, “is the fact that it’s a holiday weekend and a lot of people are going out.”
He said the National Weather Service was recommending people refrain from outdoor activities such as hiking and remain indoors during the day.
Once the sun sets, however, evening temperatures are not expected to bring much relief.
“This is going to be the warmest nighttimes we are going to have in a while,” Fisher said. “We are looking for temperatures to be in the upper 70s and even upper 80s, the warmest being Saturday night.”
And if you’re expecting to go to a restaurant in the Los Angeles area or other regions, where only outdoor dining is allowed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, you may want to think twice.
“Outdoor dining is not going to work this weekend,” Fisher said.
The situation is not expected to be any better further north — in the Bay Area and beyond — where dangerous hot conditions are also predicted.
“It’s certainly gonna be hot all over,” said Jonathan Garner, a NWS meteorologist for that region.
“In areas like Ukiah, the record of 108 degrees could be exceeded by one or two degrees,” he told AFP, referring to a city about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

Homesick Marawi residents yearn to rebuild lives as Philippines rebuilds city

Updated 27 min 15 sec ago

Homesick Marawi residents yearn to rebuild lives as Philippines rebuilds city

  • Displaced group leader urges govt. to expedite reconstruction work as majority “remain in cramped, temporary shelters”

MANILA: Displaced residents in Marawi’s ground zero, the scene of a five-month battle between Philippines forces and members of Daesh-inspired militant groups, said they couldn’t wait until 2022 “to start rebuilding their lives,” and renewed their appeal for the government to allow them to return home.

Drieza Liningding, Moro Consensus Group chair, told Arab News on Tuesday: “If we follow the (government’s) timeline, that means we’ll have to wait until 2022 ... The people are now helpless. 

“It has been three years already. We don’t even have access to our homes because we are not allowed to enter the area,” he added.

The Marawi siege, launched by the pro-Daesh Maute group, began on May 23, 2017, and lasted until October that year. More than 1,000 militants, government troops and civilians were killed, while the once-bustling city was flattened, displacing more than 100,000 residents.

The government has repeatedly assured residents of rehabilitation efforts in the war-torn city, including the construction of a permanent shelter for displaced residents from 24 villages in the most affected areas (MAA), which is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Liningding, however, pointed out that while they were “not questioning” the government’s promise to complete the reconstruction of the city before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, it was also a fact that a majority of Marawi residents “remain in cramped, squalid temporary shelters, while others were forced to stay with relatives or find a place elsewhere.”

Liningding reiterated the group’s demand for the government to speed up the process of their return, as well as provide compensation for the damage to their properties.

“The so-called ... Marawi Rise and Master Development Plan (is) incoherent and inappropriate for post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation because it focuses more on public infrastructure and government buildings that we lacked before the siege,” Liningding said.

“When you say rehabilitation or reconstruction, it should be restorative in nature for what used to be there, not to permanently bar the people from returning because of projects that are not actually needed,” he added, noting that the ongoing infrastructure projects impacted nearly 50 percent of houses in the MAA.

“What’s the use of barangay (village) complexes, parks, museums, cafeteria, guest houses, police stations and other projects for those who have lost them homes?” Liningding asked.

Duterte allotted 3.56 billion pesos ($73.38 million) for the reconstruction of Marawi earlier this year.

On Monday, in a televised address, he pledged to rebuild the city, despite the current hurdles.

“The money is there. Do not worry. We will continue to spend until such time that Marawi is rebuilt to its former glory,” he said.

Liningding, in response, said the president should not pass the blame to the displaced and helpless residents of Marawi‘s MAA.

“(Duterte) of all people should know that we have nothing to do with the delays and failures of Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) in the rehabilitation of Marawi,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, TBFM’s chairman, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, said that war-torn Marawi would rise again as a “modern and vibrant Islamic City,” citing the various infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Del Rosario has repeatedly insisted that the TFBM, along with its 56 member-agencies, is on schedule for the completion of projects aimed at restoring Marawi to its former glory by December 2021.

Construction of key infrastructure projects inside Marawi’s MAA was in full-swing until July after authorities eased restrictions which were imposed due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.