Adaptability and Uncertainty: 1st update on the Santa Rosa fires, 1 week after

(I’ve decided that I would do weekly updates on the fire’s effects so people know what’s going on from a personal perspective not just the news one, both providing data and my own experiences. If you’re interested in following you can subscribe to the blog by putting your email in the sidebar on the left)

 

Original article: please read and share, will have links to updates as they’re posted

Important information:

Total fires in California as of now: 28, 16 of which are 100% contained (none of the ones near me are yet, the main one affecting the people I care about, the Tubbs fire, is now 36,432 acres and 75% contained)

Death toll is now 41 in Northern California, with 88 people still missing.

As of 4 days ago, Santa Rosa (city that has been destroyed) has lost 2,834 homes and 400,010 square feet of commercial space.

Important fundraisers if you can help: My friend’s farm could still use help, the city of Santa Rosa has a fundraiser, my old school (the picture) has a fundraiser to help rebuild, and a reservation has opened its doors to many evacuees and is trying to build tiny houses purchase camping equipment and other things to be a better shelter


 

The school for autistics that I went to and plan on teaching at with a picture of students in front next to what the school looks like now.

“We all fall down and we get right back up again”

Broken English, Rise Against

Life in my city has altered radically in large and small ways.

The small ways are things like how small talk now includes “is your family ok” as a common question, more common emergency vehicles, and now only smoke in the distance if you look hard.

The large ways are how there are multiple places that have converted to shelters (4 that I know of, I’ve volunteered at three), and seeing the places which I knew and was familiar with converted into temporary homes and donation centers for survivors.

In the original This is our time: Thoughts on How People Respond to Disasters, I said that after natural disasters is when the best and worst of humanity is shown, when people can show who they truly are.

In the wake of the fires, my county has shown to be downright amazing.

Multiple donation centers are at full capacity, unable to hold anything else because so many people donated. At the Elks Lodge where I used to have Scout meetings, there was a huge dinner for people after we volunteered, with food that my mom recognized as coming from a family owned restaurant locally. When I volunteered at the fairgrounds (a weird experience in itself, a place that I’m used to having rides and animals becoming a massive center where trucks full of donations and many people are located), I helped unload a truck full of donated food (including far too much bread). There were bagged lunches that people had put together for survivors, many of which had messages drawn on them telling survivors to “stay strong” and many other things on the bags that were telling the evacuees they were cared about. It’s amazing how my county has adapted everything to fit the need of supporting those in need. I saw people I haven’t seen in ages volunteering, people from my Scout Troop (I got my Eagle Scout 8 years ago and turned 18 [when you can’t be a Scout any longer] 6 years ago) and old classes. The people here have fallen in a lot of ways but managed to come right back up in a new form designed to help each other.

It hasn’t been just the best of humanity here though…9 people have been arrested for trying to start new fires (5 individuals and a group of 4 teens) in the areas where the fires in North California (thank the Gods not just in my county), and I heard that some houses have jacked up in price to take advantage of the people who need homes.

However, with all this help…it’s all temporary. Eventually the fires will be out, and people will no longer be at the shelters, people have already gone back and seen their destroyed homes in places where the evacuation orders have lifted. As the picture shows, the school I went to is utterly destroyed, and tomorrow I’ll be going to a meeting about its future (which will be mentioned in the next update). It’s awesome seeing what is happening now but in the long term that’s when we’ll need you more. There’s a lot that’s still up in the air, we don’t know the exact damage, people don’t know if their homes are still here or not because they aren’t allowed to look yet, and it’s too soon to know what we’ll need. It’s only after the fires are out when we’ll know, and that’s when the news coverage will stop…please don’t stop paying attention then. We need you. I’m going to keep writing these updates so please subscribe, if enough people do I might ask others to share their stories of what they’re going through.

The struggle is going to go on for quite a while, whether or not you’re paying attention. For all those who have lost so much, I beg you to keep doing so.

This is Our Time…Again: Thoughts/a plea From Someone Going Through A Natural Disaster (with updates)

(With the goal of making it so people can follow what is happening, I’m going to make weekly updates with data about the fires and my own personal notes and put them at the end of this article, please subscribe on the left if you want to get them, if enough people do subscribe I’ll ask other people who were actually affected to give their stories as time goes on)

(The picture is of my friend’s and his family’s farm, their animals were evacuated but they need help so please click this, donate, and share along with/instead of the article [if you don’t want to share this, I want people to know what we’re dealing with but it’s not as important] , they need it)

My friend’s destroyed farm

“Neutrality means that you don’t really care

Cause the struggle goes on even when you’re not there

Blind and unaware.”

Collapse (Post-Amerika), Rise Against

When I started this article a couple of weeks ago, it was going to be very different.

It was going to be about Trump’s response to Puerto Rico, how he demeaned its leaders, said it wasn’t a “real tragedy” like Hurricane Katrina (the response to which inspired the rage in the first time I wrote on how people respond to natural disasters, This is Our Time, thought I would rewrite it after so many others were happening) because there were only 13 confirmed deaths (confirmed because death certificates take labor to do that a destroyed island can’t really do), and capped it off with saying he had fun, how he donated $1 million to help Texas in the wake of Harvey which is nothing to him and how he paid 5 times as much to find Obama’s birth certificate which was basically just a racist dogwhistle.

That was before Monday, when I learned that a fire had started during the night that was ravaging the main city in my area, burning down a friend’s farm and another’s mom’s home that has all their stuff in it while they’re in Los Angeles and forced many people I care about including my godparents to evacuate.

There are now 22 fires ravaging California and 21 dead statewide, and the fire here is 29,800 acres, has destroyed 576 buildings and threatens 29,192 others, and has caused 5,000 people to evacuate from 20 shelters as of Tuesday night. While the fire itself is about 19 miles away, thanks to going to a school for autistics in the area (which was also destroyed) a lot of my old classmates, friends, and people I care about are in danger if not already affected.

From going to volunteer and seeing the devastation in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina for 6 years I have always felt connected to survivors of natural disasters.

I have watched as the country constantly fails them, with government programs consistently being terrible to the people who need it most and people as a whole sinking into apathy when the fires go out or the floods recede when they’re actually needed the most.

I became jaded and bitter as the same betrayal happened after each disaster, the Valley Fire in the county north of me, Katrina, Irma, Harvey, Maria…but now it’s my home and the people I care about.

I look out my window and see yellow light because the sun is being filtered through smoke that is said to be as far as San Francisco which is 47.6 miles away.

I’ve been breaking down crying off and on through the past three days, am now as I write this.

So instead of asking you to not forget flooding in Baton Rouge I’m asking (rather selfishly as other places are going through worse), to not forget us. We’re human beings as well that deserve your care even after the fires are out, especially because these are going to leave a scar on my state for many years to come. Part of me is expecting people to do what they always do and stop caring after the flames go out when we need people to help because that’s when we’ll actually be able to do anything, when the news decides that the fire was the pretty thing that was what actually mattered and moves on from us.

However, I’m begging you not to, to actually think of us as people who need and deserve help not just some spectacle to look at and turn away from like has happened over and over because we actually need you. Donate to my friend if you can there’s also this for the city of Santa Rosa, share articles about us and let people know, life is hell right now and the feeling that it’s going to go on with people ignoring it all like it they have in the past is only part of it.

CalFire for the fire here is this link, this is the fires in general throughout the state, and my friend has been updating this for information for locals.

I’m begging you not for myself because I’m safe for now but for those I care about don’t forget that we’re here and need help, the whole state pretty much, and that’s going to be the case for a while.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

“Now I know we’re gonna be alright”

Parts Per Million, Rise Against

One thing that you don’t realize happens when you’re watching from afar is what your community becomes. Yesterday I saw something amazing as I worked at shelters…donations from everywhere, people rallying together for those who need it, and it was beautiful. It’s not enough for the long term, but if it’s hell to see the suffering of people at least it’s awesome to see what people do to help those going through it. I’ve never been more proud of my city until now, as we’re not affected directly but have rallied around supporting people who have evacuated here…if that same spirit spreads to others, and everyone rallies around those in need, maybe we will in fact be alright.

Updates:

Update 1: 1 week after the fire