California Wildfires, Part 1

It is with my heaviest of hearts to write this post. We have been in California for 4 months and have taken in coastal views to mountain tops. We heard of the devastating wildfires during our trip back east to New Jersey.

On September 12th what started as a backyard shed fire mixed with abnormally high winds that spread for 76,067 acres taking 1,985 homes. Watching the news coverage on tv made California seem so far away yet to us it’s been home for an extended part of our road trip! We have family here and new friends that instantly became family. It only felt right to help the best way we knew how, time and an extra set of hands.

Today we traveled to the small town of Lake Port in Lake County located north of San Francisco and partnered with the California Conservation Corps and Adventist Disaster Relief organization and met in an unused airport hanger and sorted through boxes and boxes of donated clothing. Two weeks ago this started as a small donation space by a mother and daughter and the over pouring of donations led them to lean on the county for helping hands and a large open space.
Keeping true to our fashion roots and having fun in any given situation Linds and I sorted for hours playing games as to which garment would best suit each of our family members or wild fashion trends only our friends could pull off.
Lori, the mom of the two who organized this donation center volunteers her own time when 23 of her neighbors and friends lost their homes to this fire. She recommended driving route 175 to see the damage first hand.

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Afterwards, we drove around for four hours taking in a scene indescribable by words. A scent that can’t be forgotten. People’s entire lives melted and burnt to piles of what we could make out made a home. A tea set, a fireplace, cars melted in the driveway. We drove down a neighbors cold-de-sac and here we met Jay. Jay was from New Jersey (go figure) and had moved here and started a family with his wife 16 years ago.

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He came back to take measurements for the insurance company and salvage anything he could to keep as memories as everything was lost. The county wouldn’t allow him to return to his home for two weeks after the fire. He told me he just wanted to bring home their pet cat as that was the hardest news to break to his kids. His kids travel two hours each day back and forth to school. They are currently staying in a strangers summer home until they get back on their feet. He is grateful for the roof but looked me in the eyes and told me it wasn’t home.

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A massive tree which once shaded their home was lost to the fire. Jay counted it’s rings and she was 127 years old. We left Jay and his neighborhood and drove for a while in silence. And for anyone who knows us, silence is very rare.

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