7 Months and counting

7 06 2019

Three days after my last post, a portion of northern California was laid waste by the Camp fire.  Proclaimed as a National wildfire disaster…the largest and most destructive in CA history. It was a news story for most folks…in Butte County it was a nightmare unfolding.  The evacuation line was 50 yds from my driveway.  We were a mere wind-change from the same devastation.

40,000 people are said to have escaped and evacuated…not sure if that’s only Paradise-Magalia, or it that includes the Concow-Yankee Hill-Jarbo Gap communities, or Berry Creek, or the Cherokee Road area on the east side of Table Mountain.   85 are known to be lost.  Amazingly, in spite of their (quite literally) death-defying feats of heroism, we lost NO first responders in the burn zone.

There are no fewer than 40 thousand stories of the Camp fire…  You didn’t have to be in it to be affected by the fire,either.  PTSD affects many survivors and helpers (those who have pitched in to help, regardless of how small an effort).  There are still pets being found by the tireless rescuers and trappers who specialize in small animal rescue following disasters.  That’s after major concerted efforts by hundreds of volunteers sending food and water into the burn zone, and evacuating livestock and pets even before the fire was contained.  Hundreds of pets and livestock were transferred to medical facilities well outside our area for burn treatments.  The UC Medical system got a whole lot of mileage out of learning about burn injuries.  The Camp fire came only a matter of weeks behind the Carr fire in the Redding area.  That’s two large fires with a lot of animals in short order… What they’ve done with these poor injured creatures is nothing short of miraculous!!

We discovered that exotic birds and animals were somewhat popular in the Camp fire zone.  Admittedly, the Camp fire ate a huge hunk of real estate, but it was also quite spread out.  The lake level was very low, and when it’s that low, it’s easier for the fire to jump across the canyons.  The several communities affected each had some kind of ranch, sanctuary or aviary…and most of those folks needed supply runs because they didn’t dare leave their properties due to evacuation orders.  Those are the rules… You can stay if you CAN stay.  Water?  Gas?  Feed?  Volunteers became life-line angels for some very unique “pets” that wouldn’t fit in just anywhere…

Life in our little part of the world has changed in a big way.   40,000 people had to go somewhere ELSE overnight.  A housing shortage was affecting the two towns closest to the burn zone be damned, the folks displaced by the fires had no where to return to.  In the early days following the fires, we were hearing that insurance companies were putting folks into the closest available hotel…in Sacramento, 75 miles away.  Initially, literally hundreds of households doubled-up in the aftermath.  Too much shock, too little real knowledge, too many decisions, too few places for information and help to restore.  Most folks believed they’d be home in a few hours to a couple days.  They never thought their lives were literally going up in smoke. One of my friends says her home “vaporized.”  Things you would expect to find…nothing remained except some bone china and heavy metals.

Yes, Life has changed in our little part of the world, and the “world” hasn’t kept up with that change.  Mostly, the immediate nearby communities are bigger by several hundred to a few thousand people.  Those numbers must surely be fluid…as housing shuffles and shifts and FEMA units arrive and are populated.  Schools are out now for the summer.  This is an ideal time for families to make bigger moves, especially if they’re leaving the state.  We all experience more delays, longer lines, and traffic changes along with everything else.  Hopefully, we can find a stasis that can be addressed and managed to help folks recover instead of making it worse for them.