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Wealthy Flee Beverly Hills Floods

Reprinted from the Pakistan Times-Chronicle
By Reese Erlich
Los Angeles Correspondent

Lines of Mercedes and BMWs snaked down Beverly Dr. this morning as residents fled the worst flooding in recent memory. Desperate residents packed their 1.7 children into SUVs for the perilous journey to the relative safety of flatland plains near Rodeo Dr.

“I’ve never seen flooding like this before,” said J. Worthington Richman III, as he tried to inch his Mercedes S-550 through the deadlocked traffic. Some desperate refugees abandoned their Aston Martins and walked downhill carrying nothing but bundled insurance policies on their heads.

“We have to spend the night in a Motel 6,” said Richman, choking back tears. “I didn’t know people had to live like this.”

Scientists disagree on the cause of the unprecedented flooding. Some blame global warming for the torrential rains, while others fault the overflow from the unusually high number of Olympic-size swimming pools in the area. Experts say it’s probably a combination of both.

“Global warming undoubtedly played a role,” said Ralph Stevenson, a climatologist at UCLA’s Bob Dylan School of Weather Prognostication. “But the ruptured pipes used to water lawns and spas also played a role.”  . . .

Whatever the cause, residents are angry at the failure of local government to provide adequate storm drains. Hundreds of men clad in Armani suits and women wearing Prada attended a tumultuous City Council meeting last night.

One angry protestor threw two Gucci loafers at the mayor. Eyewitnesses said the man missed, but the city’s top elected official had to be hustled away under police protection.

“There will be a full investigation,” promised Mayor Isfahan Tehrani.

Many residents were forced to take refuge with relatives and acquaintances. “A week ago I wouldn’t return this actor’s phone calls,” said one producer who asked for anonymity because he didn’t want his name used. “Now I have to sleep in his pool house.”

The city turned schools and rec centers into temporary shelters. Beverly Hills High School quickly filled with refugees. So many people arrived that authorities limited new entrants to those who could prove residency in 90210.

“I lost my wallet and all my ID,” said Howard Borkofsky, who was standing forlornly outside the school. “I have an $8.4 million house in Holmby Hills and I can’t even get a lousy cot in the high school gym? I’m taking names here.”

Hollywood stars quickly mobilized to provide aide for the newly homeless. Record producer Quincy Jones announced plans to gather world famous singers to record a benefit CD tentatively called “We Rule the World.”

The Association of Hollywood Producers will hold a benefit dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel as soon as the mud is cleared from the tiki bar.

In perhaps the most dramatic announcement, Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie revealed that they had already adopted two four-year-old children abandoned by their parents.

“They had nothing but their IPhones,” said a tearful Jolie. “We’ll finally be able to give them the kind of upbringing they deserve.”

The tragedy has attracted international attention. In a phone interview, Rafiq Hussein, CEO of Karachi-based Happy Boy Films, Ltd., said he has already optioned the life stories of several survivors. He plans to use their experiences in the upcoming season of his immensely popular soap opera “The Very Desperate Housewives of Islamabad.”

“Given the many examples of Christian extremism in America, we plan to show that moderate Christians can work together with all faiths during a time of crisis,” he said.

Pakistanis have also pledged support for the relief effort, according to Zakir Ali, chair of the Rawalpindi-Beverly Hills Sister City Association. “I have many friends who live north of Sunset Blvd. so I take this personally,” said Ali. “Our hearts go out to all the flood victims.”

Ali plans to set up drop off boxes for donations of used t-shirts, shorts and baseball caps.

Reese Erlich is a freelance foreign correspondent who occasionally dabbles in satire. His latest book, “Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire,” comes out in September.

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Reese Erlich

Reese Erlich

Reese Erlich is a veteran foreign correspondent who regularly files freelance for NPR, SF Chornicle, CBC-Radio and others. He has written three books, the latest of which is Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba.