Helping People Everywhere Through the San Diego Fires

Thanks to OaklandNativeYesterday and this morning this blog’s contact form and comments along with my twitter feed turned into a help center. I had news information and help requests coming in from every method of communication I had available; tv, radio, phone, SMS, twitter, instant messenger, email, twitter direct messages, my contact form on this blog, and face to face. I helped people as far away as Vermont to get information about their families homes and ranches because cell phone lines went down.

Media resources were going down across the state (Sign on San Diego fire blog went down, KBPS-FM went down, etc), and the more that happened the more I felt obligated to keep up on the updates. I started around 9am yesterday morning and consistently kept up for 12 hours, at which time I took a 15 minute break to rest my hands and get something to eat.

It’s been a crazy day to say the least, and from the media and blogs who have been linking here and to my twitter feed, I (and so many others) thank you.

Please help

Thankfully, we were not evacuated (although the evacuations were only a few miles away from us, and the fire around 15 miles away). So, I was able to keep updating for other people around the city and outside the city until midnight last night. This morning I started up again.

If you’ve been helped by something like this new media, I would love to hear your stories. Feel free to leave a comment, story, etc.

Thanks guys, and please, keep an eye on the twitter feed for updated information on who can use help.

[tags]sandiegofire, san diego fire, twitter, new media[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in Austin, Texas (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

26 Comments on "Helping People Everywhere Through the San Diego Fires"

  1. Thanks for all the hard work, Nate. My family and I evacuated the rancho penasquitos area (west of the 15, North of the 56) yesterday morning to my work at Sony Online just off Miramar road. A few hors later we moved to a hotel downtown San Diego, which thankfully has Wifi, which is where I discovered your Twitter feed. Your feed, and that of KPBS have brought me more timely info than anything else. Thanks much!

  2. nate says:


    Great to hear you and your family is ok and actually got a hotel room. Thanks for the comment. Keep us up with how you guys are doing if you’d like.

  3. Lindsay says:

    Thank you for all your hard work. I don’t have cable so it’s been very helpful and comforting to have a constant source of info streaming to my AIM. I included your feed on a list of non-traditional, online Wildfire news sources I posted to my blog. Good luck to you and yours.

  4. nate says:

    Lindsay, thank you for listing my feed on that resource. The more people I can help, the better. Where are you located? Are you OK?

  5. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for ALL of the resources/commentary/photos you have provided – I’m in Florida trying to track the fires for friends that have evacuated (they live on Oculto Road in RB, right near where some of your pictures were taken). All of your work is definitely appreciated, even on the other coast!
    Thanks again, and take care.

  6. Roberto Comparan says:

    Thank you Nate! As a designer, most of my time is monopolized by spending it on the computer (I’m sure you understand). Lately, I’ve been busy getting a lot of communication work completed for a new church plant here in San Diego. Due to the fact, I don’t get much time to watch any television or stream much video online. Your Twitter feed certainly made me feel safe to stay at home and work. Using the content you posted, I was able to formulate a good sense of what was taking place. Thus was the reason for the birth of my blog post at May Jesus reward you for being so diligent.

  7. nate says:

    Thanks Melissa and Roberto. I appreciate the kudos. Just doing my part.

  8. Sharon says:

    Thanks for your listing, Nate. Through it I was able to see a link to a tv station in your area that is listing homes totally gone. I am concerned about an elderly friend in Rancho Bernardo. Even though I know it’s not the latest news, I was happy to not see her block up on the link. She’s on Plaza Armada

  9. nate says:

    Sharon, glad I could help out, and I’m even more glad your friend’s house is not on that list. I hope her house is, in fact, saved. Thanks goes out to some of my friends who are producing these maps!

  10. Sharon says:

    a bit pedestrian, but you rock, nate. i’ll keep checking your blog and best to everyone in southern cal. i spent a winter in rancho bernardo seven years ago and know the area well. hoping things get better soon.

  11. Roberto Comparan says:

    By the way, I just read your tweet regarding your “followers”… George Burton Adams once said, “There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragment to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and our thoughts, as well as our success.”

    If you haven’t already done so, check out Keith Ferrazzi’s points in his book titled Never Eat Alone. I highly recommend it!

  12. nate says:

    Sharon, I’m not sure whether I should take “pedestrian” as a compliment or not, so I will. :) But thanks for the “you rock” part.

    Roberto, I will check out that book, and I completely agree that there is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. Great point.

  13. Sharon says:

    No, Nate…I meant my comment might have been a bit too pedestrian. Could be seen as too simplistic, I guess. You are providing a valuable service and as the days pass, you remind me of my reporting days for Knight Ridder before that newspaper co folder. After Hurricane Andrew in Miami, I couldn’t even contact my editors. I was at home and basically had to get on foot and walk through water with electrical wires and trees on the ground to look for “a story.” My colleagues elsewhere were doing the same thing. Just following their instincts to develop coverage. I walked miles and miles and ended up doing a piece on how the Haitian community was using Creole language radio braodcasts to help folks in their neighborhoods get the latest info. I then walked downtown to the paper to write the story because the phone lines were down and I couldn’t call it in. This was back in 1993 before blogging was the thing. It’s wonderful seeing what we journalists call convergence doing to new levels as technology improves. You are a part of it.

  14. nate says:

    Well, you know Sharon, I’ve always thought “Nate Ritter” sounds a lot like “Knight Ridder”, and Ritter does mean “knight” in German.

    Thank you for the wonderful comments. And just in case anyone would like to, I am happy to give interviews.. heh. I’ve already given one to Wired that turned into 3 articles and a few spin-offs into Canadian press and CNET. It’s been pretty nice to see people be helped, and I hope our new Citizens News Network actually plays a big role in the next few years.

    Thanks a ton! You guys are so awesome to give compliments out like that. It warms my heart.

  15. Sharony says:

    LOL! That’s great Nate. You’re right. Nate Ritter DOES sound like Knight Ridder! These days I mostly freelance for a national women’s magazine, but if I am ever asked to do a piece on convergence or know of another writer who is, I will definitley let them know about you. BTW I heard from a dear friend in Del Mar who is doing well. Glad that things in general are easing up. Finally I attended an jazz performance art thingie here in Chicago last night and a musician who played conch shells and some woodwind instruments began to ad lib poetry. He got at the Katrina/San Diego angle in ways I haven’t heard discussed too much in the media. He used very few words and by the time he was done, all we heard was fire. Water. Fire. Water. And when he was done, the message was people – no matter the income difference – are people. PS There is a “y” in my name. Typo blues. It’s Sharony.

  16. Sharony says:

    pronounced like Sharin-knee

  17. nate says:

    Ah, so sorry about the typo. I’m a skimmer, not a reader, so I miss details like that often. I really should learn to take my time… My apologies.

  18. Sharony says:

    no, it was MY typo…. my original posting had Sharon. I i dropped the y in my initial postings.. you were replying to the way I inputted my name. anyway, great job and keep it up. I think Citizens News Network will be appreciated more and more in days to come. btw i am still new to Twitter and blogging or anything beyond straight email and IM-ing. I’ll get there. :)

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