When I was about 11-years-old our house caught on fire. I remember to this day the smell, my mom crying at the end of the driveway, my little brother’s face, and the clothes I was wearing that night. With help from the community and our church we were able to rebuild. I totally understand the heartache and the pain of losing your valuables and your home.
More than two weeks ago, on a Sunday, “Wine Country” in Northern California was hit with a fire, the likes of which we’ve never seen. We all watched it on social media and on the news in disbelief. My husband is in the National Guard and by that Wednesday he and his unit got the call that they were going up to help.
This is what they do – they drop everything to help, just like any first responder. I, of course, was going through my mind- How am I going manage the kids and work? Will my husband be ok? When will he back, and everything else – I panicked.
But after I worked it through and calmed down, I remembered my 11-year-old-self when our house was on fire, and what these families are going through, and my problems didn’t seem that big anymore.
His unit was there to help with the check points, control the looting, and be there for the community. He would call us once a day, briefly, and would send pictures. The pictures have left me stunned. This fire was enormous and fierce.
My husband came back last night, and as we were sitting down to dinner I could see that he was very tired, and he started telling us stories. Here are a few of them…..
- He said the smell was unbearable – it reminded him of the smell of the fires when he was deployed to Iraq.
- The news tells you about the people that died but there were so many dead animals everywhere. He saw a cat with her kittens gone.
- He said what was amazing was that a house would be gone and the house next to it would be totally fine. A basketball hoop would be untouched but everything around it was gone.
- So many cars were left because people just didn’t have time to get them.
- A father who grabbed his son and kept screaming for his wife to go, but she never got out of the house.
- The cop who went to help his elderly mom and both of them died in the house because there just wasn’t enough time to get out.
- The pizza place that lost two of their three restaurants, but brought pizza to first responders.
- The woman who walked into a building they were in and collapsed because she had nothing.
- The kindness of the community to the first responders. They made signs, brought them food, gave them hugs, and more.
When my husband was telling me and my daughters these stories, we just sat there and listened, and we could see the tears coming from his eyes. I am so glad he is home now.
The story of Santa Rosa and the other communities up north are not seen on the news anymore. It’s not a story anymore, but for those affected the story continues. They need to rebuild. They need to feel safe again. It will take time, but they will get there. We are rooting for them to get there.
Keep them in your prayers. Thank you to our first responders because they are always ready and willing to go out when everybody is running the other way.
Here are a few pictures he sent me: