I grew up in Santa Rosa, the town most recently in the news for having been hit so hard by the fires in Northern California.
Of course, I didn’t have any idea of what was coming. My phone battery was almost dead, so I turned it off on Sunday night, something I don’t do that often.
On Monday the 9th, I turned my phone on. I had it checking e-mail, and I was looking at Facebook. I saw some notifications that friends had marked themselves safe in a fire, but I wasn’t that concerned since those often don’t mean that these friends are really in any danger.
But then my phone connected enough to get the text from my sister-in-law. “We are safe, you folks and my folks are safe. But we think our house is gone.” Yeah, that was a jolt to the system.
That’s when I started to realize just how big this entire thing really was. My brother’s house was indeed burned in the fire, and my parents spent a week under mandatory evacuation. Fortunately, their house was spared.
But my brother and his family were lucky to get out period. The fire came up so fast that they didn’t have any warning. My sister-in-law woke up smelling smoke. She woke up my brother, they figured out what was going on, and got the kids. They grabbed their computers and important papers, and left. My brother stayed behind long enough to wake the neighbors. That was all the time they had.
It’s been two weeks, and they are beginning to get things figured out. Thanks to a family friend, they have a place to stay while their house is being rebuilt. But they will have to replace everything they had.
Meanwhile, I’m still 400 miles away trying to wrap my head around this and figure out how I can help. That week at work was brutal on top of everything going on with my family.
What has been wonderful is the outpouring of support. My brother’s church is part of an organization of churches that sent a tractor trailer of stuff to help the members of the church who were affected as well as many others in the community. I’ve had comments offering to help from authors and Trixie friends and my church who have never met my family. It’s truly been wonderful.
But the rebuilding is going to take a very long time.