Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California Wildfires

This morning we could smell smoke before we got out of bed. I went outside to see our black cars covered in white ashes. The air was a hazy grey and visibility was low. Towards the north there was a huge wall of smoke covering the mountains. My eyes burned so I went back inside. I knew today we would not being playing outdoors.

Yesterday my older kids' dad and his family were evacuated from their home. I explained to the kids that the firefighters asked their dad and his family to leave their home because the fire was getting too close for it to be safer any longer. I assured them that everyone was okay without letting on that their house might actually catch fire. I didn't think they would deal well with that kinda of information. I pray that doesn't happen, that would be heartbreaking to have to explain to my children.

The entire day the smell of burning wood reminded me that others were walking away from their homes, possibly for the last time. It reminded me of those who have health issues who are not able to breathe easily because of the smoke. While driving I could feel my claustrophobia flaring up because I couldn't see familiar landmarks. I was irritated, sad, and wished for clean air and a clear sky.

After my husband got home I told the kids they needed to go through their room and pick 20 toys each to give to needy children. Right before the holidays we try to eliminate old toys to make way for the new. In doing so we also teach the kids that there are those less fortunate that we need to think of and give to them from our hearts. The two older ones didn't complain or fuss, they just went through their toys and picked out the ones to give away. My husband then made a surprise announcement that the family was going on a road trip. We packed up the toys and drove to a disaster relief facility for fire evacuees. We were redirected to the Red Cross office where we dropped off the toys and my husband let the staff know that he was trained to manage a disaster relief facility. He had undergone training for the Hurricane Katrina disaster a couple years ago. The woman who was taking the donation from us looked at him like he was holding gold. He gave her his information and she told him they were in real need of help. I could tell he really wanted to help, but he also wanted to spend time with his family. As we were leaving I heard my name being called down the hall. I could see someone walking towards us but I didn't recognize at first. Crazy enough, it was my cousin, Robert. He looked exhausted. Robert informed us that he was beat, and that they were unorganized and needed help. My husband looked at me and I told him he needed to drop us off and come back to help. So I stayed at home with the kids and he took off to help the disaster relief effort.

A few hours went by and I finally heard from my husband. He told me that there were three buildings housing and feeding people. Apparently he had been appointed facility manager and was in charge of twenty volunteers and five to six hundred evacuees. I could easily believe it...he is a leader and a fantastic manager. After a long day at work he has volunteered his time to help those whose future is uncertain. He has never been the kind of man who could rest while others suffered. In my eyes, and the eyes of many other people tonight, he is a hero. I wish I could be there to do my part and support him in his role. I suppose being here so he can be there is really doing my part. I'm just so proud of the man I married. There isn't anything better than knowing you married a man who has integrity, compassion, and a giving spirit.

Tonight I will pray for the victims and the heroes and ask that these fires are quenched and that life can get back to as normal as possible for everyone here in smokey southern California.


shmode said...

What an awesome thing he is doing Wendy, it made me tear up too! Stay safe!