Friday, October 26, 2007

San Diego Fires

This has been the CRAZIEST week EVER! I just can't describe the feeling of waking up on a Monday morning, getting ready for work, only to find out that you have to stay home, pack up your important papers, pictures and some clothes, so you can high tail out of the neighborhood and head to an evacuation center. One thing that I learned pretty quickly was not to panic, but to systematically gather our belongings and prepare to leave.

The biggest thing was all the time that was spent glued to the news coverage. Hoping like hell, TRUSTING the media! YIKES! That was very difficult. Meanwhile, in the middle of the fire, he had to go to dialysis on Monday and Wednesday. It was very freaky. I sat here, all packed, ready to go, planned to meet him at dialysis and then head to an evac center. Even the dog knew something was up and when he saw me pack up his food and blankets, he was ready to book out the door!

I was nervous, talked to some friends online, watched the media coverage, tried to stay on top of the areas where the fires were burning. At one point, the fire came within a few miles from our house and the mandatory evacuation center was within a mile. FREAKY!!

Then at one point on Tuesday, President Bush declared Southern California a "Natural Disaster Area". I sat here, still packed and waiting to see where the fire was coming in from and it sunk into me that I was living in a natural disaster area. Good God! That was something that I have NEVER experienced. Even during tornadoes and floods couldn't compare with fire. All I could think was all the fire lessons I got from my uncle, who was a fireman. I just kept trusting that the fire departments were working hard and keeping us safe.

By Tuesday afternoon, we had to get out of the house and just see what was going on beyond our front yard. So we drove to the Oceanside Harbor, walked around and saw people trying to be "normal". Those folks trying to be normal made me feel better. I felt like things would return soon to the "normal" state. I'd return to work, I'd pay bills, I'd continue to live my life, love my family and be normal! Ah, the idea of being normal, running errands, sitting in traffic, waiting for the train, going to the dry cleaners, mailing letters, cooking dinner.

I thought that it was alot like during 9/11. Disaster struck. People didn't know what to think. Watch lots of TV, depending on the media to get you through. That's exactly how I felt.

I thank God that none of my friends lost their homes, none were hurt, many were displaced, but got to return. The concern from my friends, the love that was outpouring is amazing.

And then, let's talk about how amazing the folks in San Diego were to each other. 10's of 1000's of people in evacuation centers, 10's of 1000's of people bringing food, blankets, pillows, toiletries, water, paper products, and everything that people needed. There were so many donations that the evac centers had to ask people to NOT bring donations! When have you ever heard of something like that? The outpouring was very touching. I was crying over the kindness of people. We didn't wait for the Federal Govt to step in a "save" us. We just saved ourselves. To me, that's the best part of living here in San Diego.

A couple of funny shelter stories:
1. one of the shelters by the coast had lots of elderly folks in it. A couple of the Chargers paid for everything for this shelter including a Chef who came in and cooked a gourmet breakfast and had Starbucks come in and serve coffee!
2. another shelter had lots of elderly folks in it and many of them had dogs. They put out a request for people to come down and walk their dogs and play with them so they could sleep for a while!!
3. volunteer Dr's and nurses poured out into the shelters to the extent that some were turned away because there was no more need.
4. teachers were volunteering to go to Qualcomm Stadium to help with everyone's kids - give them something to do, help fight boredom!!

After hearing all the positive stories about the shelters, I totally expected to hear that someone would be giving away massages or spa treatments!! And now they are trying to decide if the Chargers can play on Sunday or Monday. Let me tell you, if we are able to play an NFL game a week after the fires started there's nothing we can't do!! GO SAN DIEGO!!

The latest statistics that I am aware of:
over 375,000 acres burned
over 350,ooo families evacuated
the largest fire in San Diego County AND the State of California
1800 homes burned down so far
about 7 deaths, 19 injuries
bad air quality all week and into next week

God bless those affected by the fires! "EVERYONE"

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