Camp Fire - Northern California - Tale of Woe....

CJ7Pilot

18436572
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Yuba City
State
CA
#1
For starters, I'm not looking for donations, or sympathy (okay, maybe some moral support)... but my stress level is topping up, and I just need to vent a little.

There are so many people MUCH worse off than I am... I feel bad complaining... but we all have our limits....

So, last Thursday I was headed to work, and noticed a plume of smoke to the north. I thought it was a lot closer than it turned out to be. When I got to work, I found out there was a mandatory evacuation for the town of Paradise.

Well, four of my six grandchildren live in Paradise! I texted my step-daughter, and told her to get the heck out of there! She and her current husband were just leaving with the two younger kids, and my ex-son-in-law was just leaving his house with the two older kids.

I also let my wife know what was going on, so she could encourage all of them to move more quickly!

A while later, my wife called me in a panic! She was on the phone with the older kids, and they were over-run by the fire! They were screaming, their pets were freaking out, and there was was nowhere to go, because traffic was at a standstill!

I rushed home, and in the looong slow-motion six minutes it took me to get there, traffic cleared up, and they all made it out safely.

My wife was a wreck... she honestly thought she was listening to our grandchildren burn to death!

Everyone regrouped at my other step-daughter's house in eastern Chico. Her husband is a fire captain with the US Forest Service, and come to find out, he was able to give them all a few minutes advance notice, which may have saved their lives!

But wait... winds were crazy last Thursday, and they blew the fire downhill toward Chico!

So, my other step-daughter's house was evacuated as well!

All told, friends and family, we hosted 11 evacuees last Thursday night... and we were happy to do so... they all made it!

The Chico area was saved, and our Chico family was able to return home within a couple of days.

Our Paradise families, not so much. Both of their homes were completely destroyed.

Thankfully, by the grace of God, fate, or coincidence (whatever works best for you), my wife and I bought the house next door to us just a month ago!

My step-daughter and her family (who lost everything, with no renter's insurance) are living in our "spare" house.

My ex-son-in-law (the father of the older two grandchildren... the one who drove through fire), who is a great friend of ours, and a fantastic dad, has been staying with us in our house. He rented a house just a few blocks from us, which he can move in to tomorrow. He is totally dedicated to his kids!

The kids are now enrolled in a local charter school, which I'm very excited about!

It's been a busy week....

On another front, two of my employees in my Chico location live in Magalia, which is a little town uphill from Paradise.

One of them rides the bus to work, so he was on the road last Thursday before the fire even started. He had $10 in his pocket for lunch....

I gave him some money for food, and I've been putting him up in a motel for the last week, while things get figured out. He was lucky... his house was spared... but he can't get to it! Hopefully, he will be able to go home this weekend.

My other Magalia employee decided to stay at home. He's an 84 year old logger/firefighter/Bearing Belt Chain company man... he knew he could take care of himself....

Well, today we received cofirmation that his remains were found among the rubble of his home. He had bulldozed a fire-break around the perimiter of his property, but it just wasn't enough.

We're taking solace in the idea that he (very well) knew the risks, and he left this earth doing what he wanted to do, and being where he wanted to be....

I'm exhausted... and I've got a perpetual lump in my throat.

My family is fortunate, and they all have a place to live... but I can't help thinking of the thousands who are camping out at fairgrounds, churches, and Wal-Mart parking lots! What are all those people going to do?!?

This is not our country's first natural disaster, and it won't be the last... but this is the first time I really understand what people are going through!

I can't save everyone (I wish I could), but at least I can save a few....

If you're still with me, thank you so much for listening (reading)!

This is cathartic for me, just putting it out there....
Like I said, I just needed to vent. Cheers!:cheers:
 
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CJ7Pilot

18436572
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CJ-8.com Member
City
Yuba City
State
CA
#3
Prayers for the victims. Thankful for your familt's safety. Material things can be replaced. :wave:
Thank you so much... and you're absolutely right!

For years, I've heard survivors say, "I don't care about all my stuff, I'm just glad we're alive!"

I always thought that was just an initial emotional response, but now I know they f'n MEAN it!

Stuff can be replaced....
 

barrys

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
East Norriton
State
PA
#4
So sorry to hear this, I don't think most of us can grasp what it is really like unless we have dealt with something like this first hand.
Me and my wife have often talked about what we would grab in 10 minutes if we had to get out. Bird(34 year family member) and cat(first furry critter wife is not allergic to ever) are top 2 beacuse the are living, everything else can be replaced to some extent.

With all the natural disasters lately, I guess we as a community here are lucky that this is the first that has hit home that I can remember.
 

sdsupilot

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
OKC
State
OK
#5
Sorry to hear about all the loss. Very glad that your family is safe. I agree with the "stuff can be replaced" mindset.

The Moore OK tornado in 2013 went about a mile north of me but it certainly changed my perspective on possessions. Watching it grind towards us on live tv for 20 minutes was pretty painful. Every spring I take pictures of the house and valuables for documentation just in case there is another disaster. Coincidentally, that was also the first day I drove the Scrambler to work.
 

revho

$9.00 vanilla malt
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
beaverdam
State
MI
#6
Those videos alone were tough to watch on the news of people having to drive through tunnels of fire to get out, fire trucks with paint melting on them. Couldnt imagine having to live through it. Glad you and family were spared, sounds like God had a set up plan to help others that directly involved you.
 

53D Scrambler

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Hampstead
State
NC
#7
Man that is a sobering recount of some past events over the last few days for you out there. Makes it much more personal hearing it from someone who's family and coworkers were affected. Our prayers go out to those in NCAL and the LA area affected. I too had to evacuate my house in Eastern NC recently for Hurricane Florence. We just had it built 4 months before the hurricane struck and I can tell you that grabbing some essential files, select kids toys, and taking pictures for the insurance is a surreal experience.
 

93_Fummins

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
Edmond
State
OK
#9
Prayers for the affected parties. And extra prayers to you, sir! Generosity at that level under those conditions, while kind and honorable, is very strenuous. Take deep breaths, counts your blessings, and enjoy the extra company no matter the cause of congregation.
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#10
Wow, it’s been hard to read anything on these fires and this was surreal to read. I can’t fathom living through that. Best to you and yours and all the people in that area, those you know and otherwise.
 

HighSierra CJ

Scrambler Enthusiast
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
City
Ducor
State
Ca
#11
I Am a couple hundred miles north east of you. We have a couple fires burning as well. Air quality is very bad. I am very sorry for your loss. So glad that your family made it to safety.
 

Belizeit

CJ-8 Member
CJ-8.com Member
City
River Ridge
State
La
#12
Glad you and your family are alright. I know right now all those people who have survived this horrible situation wonder how they will get through this. The vast majority will work hard and move on from this and it will make them stronger. I live in the New Orleans area and saw 10s of thousands lose just about everything and13 years later it is amazing to see what people have accomplished. California is an amazingly strong state. Tomorrow I leave for Southern California to visit my sister and family. She has a small place down in the desert to get out of Oregon in the winter. Funny thing is she has been leaving southern Oregon the last 3 years in the summer because of the fires and horrible smoke up there. Unfortunately very few places are a utopia
 

CJ7Pilot

18436572
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CJ-8.com Member
City
Yuba City
State
CA
#13
Thanks guys! It's nice to hear your kind words, and shared experiences!

Today is a new day, and everyone is doing fine.

By the end of the weekend, everyone should be settled in to their respective homes, and the kids will most likely start school on Monday.

Next Thursday, our family will have a LOT to be thankful for! :cheers:
 

CJ7Pilot

18436572
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CJ-8.com Member
City
Yuba City
State
CA
#14
Wow... going back and reading my original post, I have a hard time getting through it. Each of the broad points I covered has hundreds of peripheral memories, emotions, etc. attached to it.

This is how I process my stress, though. My wife (Tammy) prefers to immerse herself in her grief, and have an (almost) total breakdown... then she comes out strong, and ready to move forward!

I've got to store the bad stuff, and sample it bit by bit over a period of time, and slowly let it go. For me, this is going to take a while... but for now, I'm in good shape. :thumbsup:

Today, my son in law (Charlie) got the keys to his rental home here in Yuba CIty. Tammy and I went with him (and the kids) to check it out. It's an older home (like ours) but it has been completely remodeled. It's beautiful!

The kids were sooo excited to see their new bedrooms! They are very aware of the things they have lost, but they are adapting very positively to all the changes.

This is the first time I've seen Charlie smile and laugh since this whole ordeal began. He knows logically, that he's much better off than thousands of other people in his shoes... but tonight, in the new house, with the kids being happy, I think it sunk in that he was really going to be alright!
 

bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#15
That is great to hear and I love the way you’re using this place/us to help you process the flood of stuff you’re dealing with. Continuing to send all possible good thoughts and hope.
 

CJ7Pilot

18436572
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City
Yuba City
State
CA
#16
Thanks BW, the forum support is really fantastic!

Here's an interesting bit of child psychology:

For the past week, my 5th grade grandson has been staying in our house with his dad, and playing video games with his friends online... and my third grade granddaughter has been staying next door with her mom, playing with her little brothers.

After seeing their dad's new house tonight, and getting excited about their new bedrooms, my grandson has spent the rest of the evening next door with his mom, playing with his little brothers, and my granddaughter has been over here hanging out with her dad!

There's probably a clinical explanation for this behavior (which is lost on me)... but I'm hoping it means they are embracing their "new normal," and no longer need to cling (as much) to the familiarities of their former lives....

That's a crude explanation, I know, but I don't know how else to express it. :shrug:

EDIT: Now both my grandson and granddaughter are over here playing together... which I haven't seen in a very looong time! :headbang:
 
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bigwalton

Picture cravin' AK Postal nut
Staff member
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
#17
The ability of kids to adapt to new situations and process information is pretty universally underestimated. Love to hear that they’re getting to a better place with all of the chaos.
 

gpassida

Basic User
City
Redding
State
Ca
#18
I live in nearby Redding, CA. We just had the Carr Fire destroy over 1,000 homes and take 5 lives. That got within 5 blocks of our home. That was a horrible experience. I can't even imagine what they went through in Paradise. Our Scout troop had "Stuff The Tent" events for the last few nights to collect needed items for the Camp Fire families. People were amazing. We filled several trucks and a 27 foot trailer. And collected over $4,000.00 cash as well. Everyone is digging deep to help in whatever way they can. Many people that donated just lost their homes in July. CJ7Pilot - if there is anything we can do from Redding, just let me know.

Pics from last night's collection effort and the drop off in Chico today:
 

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CJ8LVR

Legacy Registered User
SOA Board Member
City
Madison
State
AL
#19
We send our thoughts and prayers from Alabama. Very tough situation. Grateful, at least, for the fact that your immediate family made it out physically safe.
 

CJ7Pilot

18436572
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CJ-8.com Member
City
Yuba City
State
CA
#20
Thank you! It's been an exhausting couple of weeks, but comparatively, things have worked out very well for my family members.

Everyone has a place to stay, the homes are furnished, there's food on the table, and we're all here!

Today is kind of a transition from "shock mode," to "move forward mode." The kids are starting school, my ex-son-in-law is going back to work, my current son-in-law is coming to work with me, and we've all got a fairly good perspective on how life is going to be for a while.

My heart aches for the thousands who are still living in fairgrounds, parking lots, old shopping centers, and public shelters. They'll all find new beginnings eventually... but it's going to take a while for many of them. I'm adding my prayers to yours, for those people.

Thank you again, for your moral support, and your kind words!
 
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