The world that we knew before the Camp Fire was a beautiful one. In the morning, as we took our kids to school, we saw the same people every day. That includes the spunky yard duty employee who wore superhero socks with capes on them. The love that permeated from her to the kids was unmistakable. She would dance and get to their level and make sure their day started with a smile.
That fire took a small community, but one that was large in spirit. Ultimately, it stole our way of life. We never wanted to wake up one morning and become instantly homeless.
I miss going to Rite Aid and seeing the friendly faces in there and their genuine conversations of life and happiness. I cling to the memories: the smell of the pine trees after a good rain, marrying my husband in our church, my son’s first steps in our home.
People lived on fixed incomes and low incomes to begin with. So people now stay in their cars, trailers and so forth because they can’t afford anything else. I miss the way my life was. My husband and I worked really hard to make ourselves a home. We were not millionaires and our home may not have been the Hilton, yet it was ours.
Since the fire, we have become a community that has had to become a part of other communities—something neither was prepared for. At first, our new homes welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like it was all going to be OK. Now they have turned on us. We keep hearing about how we’ve created traffic jams and spiked crime rates.
Today, I have good days and I have bad days. A lot of the survivors have no support—no feeling of family or community. So please remember that this is just as fresh as it was the day it happened. Please don’t tell us to get over it and make a plan. You can’t expect people who have a broken leg to walk it off.
This is hard for the people going through it. We need time to heal. We need compassion. So please be patient.