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