It’s been hard to think of anything but the fires.
I listened to the radio at work for updates all week, and actually started reading the news again for the first time in 11 months. Interestingly, my displaced friend Alison was the best source of local fire news with her Facebook posts. I watched in horror as more and more people were evacuated, my heart aching for those who lost everything, some even their lives.
Firefighters have come from Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and southern California to join our local forces in fighting this disaster. I saw the Oakland hills fires when I lived in San Francisco and never thought I’d see anything worse than that, but these fires are officially the worst in California’s recorded history.
Our community swung into action to assist evacuees, donating money, collecting food and necessities, and setting up emergency shelters for humans, pets, and livestock. My boss negotiated with pharmacies to replace evacuees’ medications lost in the fires and donated medical supplies. Our sheriff was outstanding as always. We faced this together and did our best to help our neighbors. Our strong and caring community is one of the things I love most about living here. As others put it, “The love in the air is thicker than the smoke”.
Fortunately for us on the coast, the air has been clear for the past three days, as the wind came in from the ocean and cleared out the smoke. It remains a heavy pall inland and in the Bay Area, which is getting smoke from fires in all three counties. The usually clean (by city standards) air in San Francisco is now as bad as Beijing’s, again a record for the worst ever recorded.
To cap it all off, there was a 4.0 earthquake on Friday afternoon. Guess where the epicenter was? Yes, Redwood Valley, also the epicenter for our County’s fires. Alison was at her house surveying the damage and said it felt like it was right in her backyard. Why not?
When I came home that evening, I was greeted by Mark’s herd of dogs and clucking chickens outside the house, and by my two beloved cats inside. I felt so incredibly lucky to be alive, breathing clean air, with food for dinner and my friends and family safe and sound.