Firestorms .... Evacuation ... Survival

purpleroses(SanDiegoCA)October 27, 2007

I was asleep when the reverse 911 call came in.

I knew we had Santa Ana conditions and a fire was way, way up in the mountains. Never imagined it would come to this ... Nearly 1 million Californians displaced.

I woke up the kids and called my husband who was working late to come and get us! We left at 2 a.m Monday and saw the flames advancing over the ridge.

After 5 days with just the clothes on our backs and the 5 of us living pretty much out of our van 100 miles north, we're back in Escondido today and thankful our home was spared.

Many of our neighbors were not so fortunate and it's difficult to see all the charred foundations where houses once stood.

I drove up the mountain to check on some of our kids' schoolmates and after much confusion mixed with some denial, I realized I couldn't find or see their homes because . . . well, the homes were not there anymore! The schools are getting lists together of kids whose homes burned to the ground. It is so sad.

The firefighters who saved our neighborhood commented that we were extremely fortunate since there were walls of flames almost 360 degrees around us. Our kittens are safe but scared and weak. I gave them baths, cleaned out their eyes, ears and noses which were filled with soot.

We have lots of ash and some came into the house through the door jams. We will be cleaning all weekend and for weeks to come.

I lost some of my rare roses (from the wind, 99 degree heat and not being there to water them) Fatalities were Burgundy Iceberg, Julia's Rose, Spellcaster, Ruby Pendant and others.

But I have NOTHING to complain about ... we got out and our kids have a home to come back to .... just a whole lot of cleaning up to do.

Very Thankful,

Denise

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purpleroses(SanDiegoCA)

Don't judge us until you've walked a mile in our shoes across charred Earth.
Californians get a lot of criticism. Yes, we live where there are fires and earthquakes. We deal with it the best we can, we clear away the brush, we do the best we can.

Yes, there were a lot of wealthy people who lost their homes, but most worked hard all their lives to get to where they were.
They have a lot less now, because many were underinsured, not insured or their homes will cost too much to rebuild. What do you do with a quarter acre of charred dirt and rubble which is worth 200,000 in itself. Everything is tied up in our homes here.
You can't sell land or homes here right now. The only choice is to rebuild. The home is gone ... all they have is the land. Land is scarce and no place is safe from fires.
Many homes in Rancho Bernardo were not in a known danger zone.
Firestorms are sadly a part of nature and they will happen every time conditions are like they were last weekend. It's frightening. We've lived here 7 years and went through the 2 most extreme fires in California history. 2003 and 2007..Earth Abides

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 2:23AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Denise, I am glad you have a home to return to, but I have not read anything here that is a criticism or judgement of people in Califoria.

Disasters are horrible regardless of the state.

Who is Lily Lawrence? She and her former estate were on the news, and I am not familiar with her.

Sammy

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 6:55AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Denise, good to hear from you. No, I don't think anyone can judge unless they've been through a major disaster. Just glad that you and your family and pets are safe. Thanks for stopping in.

Carla

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:00AM
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pagan(8b)

Denise - what an awfl experience for you and your family. my thoughts are with my friends in California.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:21AM
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bettym_grow

Oh my God Denise,

This is the best eye-witness story I have read anywhere on-line in regards to this devastating disaster.

I agree 100% with your second post, especially in regards to why people stay on and rebuild. You've summed up the situation in a very concise, and truthful way.

I wish you, and all those Californians who were affected by the fires, strength and courage to start rebuilding your lives.

(((Hugs)))

Betty

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:39AM
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moodyblue(8)

Dear Denise,
I posted in the other thread and all I can say again, number 1 is that you and your family is safe and we have a lot to be thankful for that. But I am so terribly sorry that after the ordeal of living in your van for five days, at how sad and shocking it must have been when you went to check on your childrens friends homes, and found them gone. It's not over for you yet, help is still needed for neighbours who were less fortunate and my heart goes out to them and yourselves in the recovery.
Thinking of you and wishing you all the best in these sad times.
Hugs, Pauline - VI

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 11:21AM
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zeffyrose_pa6b7(6b7)

Dear Denise---

so glad to hear you are safe-----and yur home is intact.

It must have been a horrible experience for you----

I think most of the people have been very courageous and very helpful to others

I've only heard good things about the folks in CA.

Good Luck with the clean-up----

Florence

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 4:39PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Thank you for letting us know that you've survived. The coming months are going to be hard, through, and your children haven't been through anything like this and to watch their friends suffer is going to be hard.
Half of my apartment complex burned when I was in Houston; it was a really big fire. The smell of smoke gets so old. There is a product called "House Wash" that is a triple sodium phosphate, and it will cut ash and smoke residues. Use gloves as it can be mixed really strong.
I got my late great Snurr cat as a result of the fire; she was a tiny orphaned kitten and a friend who lived in the burned part thought his cat had been killed. The neighborhood around the complex fed the pets who had escaped the flames and David got his Hester back (but with curled whiskers from the closeness of the fire when she escaped) so I kept the kitten, who was with me 19 1/2 years, so kittens can survive fires fairly well.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 9:00PM
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rose_nutty(z4b)

I wish I had some of the roses that you mentioned - I would gladly take cuttings if I had them for you. (I have lousy luck with rooting.) But I don't - so I can only send my thoughts and prayers for you all.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 11:59PM
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debnfla8b

Oh Denise...I am just so glad you and your family are okay! NEVER would I judge someone living through this mess. Shoot....I live in hurricane alley!!! I would not want anyone to judge me either. Some times it is not possible to just up and move where everyone thinks it is safe...I have lived here all my life. I watched the news horrified and worried for all the people being evacuated. I know the feeling of being told to get out...to save your lives...I know the feeling!

I'm just happy you are fine. I grieve for all the others that lost their homes, pets or loved ones. It is just so darn sad.

Deb

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 12:33PM
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