The Perfect Storm


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That’s what they’re calling it, these infernos from Hell that are consuming tens of thousands of acres all over Southern California.  “The Perfect Storm” has completely destroyed over a thousand homes and businesses, and sent almost one million people running for their lives. It has irrevocably changed the face of many communities – and much of Southern California itself.

And it’s only Wednesday.

This is my territory, my ‘hood – Southern California. I’ve grown up here and created precious memories all along the various fire fronts.    I have memories of my days spent as a young woman on the beach and in the hills of Malibu.  I lived for awhile in San Diego and spent one long weekend at a resort in Rancho Bernardo.  In the last couple of years there were many trips to Lake Arrowhead to lounge, cruise the lake and enjoy shopping  and music with people I cared about.  Then there’s the fresh apple pie I’ve had in Julian, and the night spent in Fallbrook – avocado country!  I’ve made love in the hills of Big Bear and Ventura, and gone to the Ren Fair in Devore.  These are my stomping grounds.  And my Californian sisters and brothers in them.

I paced around the Tree House yesterday, keeping one eye on the news and the other looking out my windows at a changed landscape of my own.  It’s Nothing compared to what others have experienced.  I lost some Mexican pottery to the 60 mph winds, and everything is covered in a fine sprinkling of soot.  Then there are the piles and piles of windtorn branches and debris everywhere.  Across the way I can see at least three old trees that were snapped in half by the fingers of some invisible giant – Trees that have been rooted and growing here for probably 30 – 40 years.  And just like that! they were torn from the soil like matchsticks.

On my way in to work this morning, driving South into Irvine and nearer to the Santiago fires, the air became acrid the further I drove, and the Sun burned a blood red sky.  It’s hot and dry, but thankfully, the winds have stopped.  Only thing is, now the smoke lies like a choaking, gray fog blanketing everything in sight.  Kicking up ashes on my way to the door, I was grateful to fill my lungs with the clean air inside the building.  Even at this, my eyes sting and feel swollen, my nose is congested, and going out into the 90plus smokey heat to get to my car? It’s enough to keep me inside and at my desk for lunch.

I read the stories.  Watch the news.  Listen to the conversations around the office.  All of us have been effected in one way or another.  We’ve got employees that were evacuated in San Diego.  One of the parks in Fallbrook has almost completely burnt to the ground.

And all I can think about is…What must it feel like….

To be watching the news from an evacuation center, and see your home only yards from  consuming flames ten stories high?

To have only the space inside of your car for packing all of the ‘important’ items you’ve collected in 40, 50…70 years of life – knowing full well that the next time you return to your home, nothing will remain?

To have your son, husband, or father standing at the front lines of the Fire, inhaling smoke, blinking back cinders and fighting the damnable winds trying to get control of the Uncontrollable?  And knowing he’s trying to save the property of perfect strangers, his own life at risk of being be swept away in fire tornado?

What must it feel like to look around you and know that all of your worldly possessions just went up in smoke?

My heart breaks as I watch the news….families displaced and ‘homeless’ now.  The faces of the elderly particularly move me.  The elderly that may not have had insurance to cover their losses, who haven’t the physical or mental stamina to rebuild, restore, and recover.  Thankfully, our commuities here in California are coming together.  We’re seeing the very best of people come out, with very little of the nasty stuff our brothers and sisters in New Orleans experienced with Katrina. Maybe we were better prepared, having learned some painful lessons through their ordeal.  Maybe the people running the cities are different, somehow, or the people themselves are different.  I don’t know.  All I do know is this:

It reminds me of how important it is to build my life on something that lasts…something that cannot be consumed by fire, washed away in floods, or torn to hell by a tornado.  My life – like a house – must continue to be built upon a sure foundation of faith, love and hope, strong vital relationships, and a lifestyle that has rejected the superficial in order to dig deep into the Everlasting.

It also reminds me that I better get renters insurance.

Today is the Perfect Day to do that.

8 thoughts on “The Perfect Storm

  1. It saddens me to watch all of this on the CNN. I grew up in SanDiego/Coronado and to see this .. puts a strain on my heart strings. You’ve written so beautifully about it, thank you :]
    Please stay safe.

    ((( Red ))) Thank YOU :) (One of the places I’ve lived is Coronado – right on Orange Ave. I loved it!)

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  2. I was reading about this on cnn as well, and there was a whole section on insurance, and the devastating and long-reaching impact this might have on people trying to get insurance in the future. I think we always tend to forget the magnitude of these tragedies after the immediate danger has passed, but hopefully we have learned from Katrina, and remember that recovery takes longer than the headlines will bother with.

    Stay safe, Grace!

    Deb, thank you! I’m perfectly safe where I am – the closest fire is about 20 miles from here. We had ‘our’ fire last year, right on the other side of the hill. Wow, and you sure nailed it: The news media will soon be going on to the next ‘Big Thing” while thousands are trying to put their lives back together again.

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  3. Just making sure you are still Okay! I lived in Alabama during Katrina, and yes, the people are different. I have lived/visited SoCal many times, I don’t have TV, but I read the news and hear inspiring stories of communities coming together, do you suppose it’s a lesson? Do you suppose anyone is listening? Do you suppose it will make a difference? Do we know what that difference is?

    ((( Sorrow ))) I’m well, thank you! You know what? I DO think people are listening, and that Katrina definitely taught many people many things. We have the President showing up in San Diego today, and our Govenor has been on the ground and surveying the fire damages, etc. since Day 1. At least initially, it looks like we’re getting lots of support from everywhere – State, local and Federal! I just pray that the fires will die out quickly, and that people can start to move on to rebuild their lives. The waiting must be horrible! Peace and love to you! (and no T.V.?? Wow :) Awesome!)

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  4. What a very moving post Grace, thank you. I too have been thinking of what it must be like for those directly affected and I know that it’s times like this that people pull together, communities pull together and that some good can be seen somewhere.

    I’ve watched the agony of one of those folks crying saying, it’s not like we can just “start over” – that was our life! I understand where she must be coming from since I’ve seen it before but too, I know that lives *can* be rebuilt, we *can* survive and even come out stronger. I’ve just been reading a blog recently that has shown some photos of the destruction that some tornadoes left in some towns in Indiana recently and what stands out is the heart in the people of the towns there.

    I am happy you ended with what is so very important and that’s the building our lives on what can’t just be washed, burned or blown away and that is our hearts, our souls, and our faith and our inner security – our love.

    Peace to you today Grace and please keep us informed here if you can. It’s really good to hear from someone who is close there – how close by the fires are you?
    ~ RS ~

    Hey, Ruby :) Thanks very much. It doesn’t surprise me a bit to hear how this event is moving you, too. You’re a sensitive compassionate woman. Fortunately, I’m about 20 minutes from the fire, both from my home (in one direction) and my office (in another direction). Last I heard the fire was moving upwards and East, which is away from here. If the winds shifted, it could be another story – the hills around here are so dry from the drought! But my hope is that the worst is behind us here in Orange Co. – and hopefully, for those in the Lake Arrowhead and San Diego communities as well! (I’m about 90 minutes or so from each of those locations…) I appreciate your concern, Ruby! Have a great day :)

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  5. I’ve been grieving for everyone’s losses as I watch this devastation play out on the news.

    My heart and soul cry out for the people who lost their homes and so much of their lives to this tragedy. I saw many animals rescued that people were forced to leave behind in evacuations, and watched a man’s face light up with pure joy, as the dog he was forced to leave behind was found safe and returned to him.

    I found this article in the LA Times, “How to Help Fire Victims.”
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-howtohelp24oct24,0,855524.story?coll=la-home-center

    There’s a list of ways to help the people and animals displaced by the fires in it.

    Be well and take care, Grace.

    Thank you, Mother Wintermoon! I’ll make that Help Link it’s own post, so no one misses it! It’s been so heartwarming to see the amount of care and concern over the animals. Many people wouldn’t leave without theirs – in the areas affected, we have alot of rural communities…horse folks, ranchers, etc. Everyone seems to really be conscious of their wellfare as well! Thanks for stopping by and much love to you, MW!

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  6. My husband returned from San Diego Tuesday night. He said as the plane lifted up and he looked down over the landscape, that it looked like a war zone. The eerie glow of fires and smoke lighting the night sky, it was very surreal. Being so far away it’s sometimes hard to empathize but your post very elequently put into words how residents are feeling. I have a much deeper level of understanding of the magnitude of this tragedy that is affecting so many lives. You are so correct about what really matters. The one bright spot in this disaster seems to be the low number of casualties. I pray that it stays low.
    Much love,
    V

    ((( V ))) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for California, and I’m glad your hubbie got home safe. XOXO

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  7. My thoughts and prayers are with you Grace. Here’s hoping to a future with a firm foundation of faith, love and hope. I pray that you remain safe. Much love to you.

    ((( Muse ))) Thank you so much. Much love to you too, sweet Mermaid Goddess.

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  8. Gracie, I just got around to reading this post. My heart goes out to you and the resides of Southern Cal. I’m not sure how close in proximity you are to the raging inferno, but you watch your backside. Of course, this goes without saying yet I say it anyway because I can.

    You stay alert out there Wild One. You must be doing OK since you are talking about getting your Renters Insurance! I have a buddy in your area you can call. Only you Gracie!

    XOXOX

    ((( Hawk ))) Thank you :) All of my sides are very safe (about 20 miles from the Santiago blaze, as of right now) – and I appreciate your concern for my bros and sisters of California. And Thanks for hooking me up! I think I’ve got it covered but if it needed, I’ll shake your nest for your friends number. Love and Namaste! xoxox

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