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President-elect Obama touched by the plight of Southland fire victims

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Barack Obama greets the crowd at his victory rally in Chicago on election night.


President-elect Barack Obama is not in charge yet, but that has not stopped him from showing compassion and exerting his influence. At a news conference late yesterday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced he had received a phone call from President-elect Obama, “.. he and his transition team are in contact with the White House.”

Mayor Villaraigosa cautioned there is only one president at a time, but indicated he was hopeful that Mr. Obama could give the White House a push in the effort to get federal disaster assistance for the wildfire areas. Also, the Obama campaign website home page now has a link for individuals who want to help out the victims of the Southern California fires.

Meanwhile, another difficult step for the fire victims of Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar today. This morning at nine, the residents of the 124 homes that survived the flames were allowed back into the park to collect their possessions. Then at noon, the more than 400 or so who were not as fortunate and lost their homes, will get their chance to return to the park and salvage what they can.

 At yesterday’s news conference, Mayor Villaraigosa expressed deep regret at the huge loss suffered by fire victims. Nevertheless, Villaraigosa praised firefighters and police for their skill and courage, which he credited with making sure no one died in the Sylmar wildfire. Investigators with cadaver dogs completed a two day search of the park rubble on Monday. However, authorities are still looking for about 166 Oakridge residents who have not checked in with police to say they are safe.

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