I write this from my home office nestled in the foothills of the Santa Susana Knolls on the East side of Simi Valley this morning. I feel perched on the edge of gratitude and anticipation of evacuation as the Santa Ana winds brush debris past the window angrily, as if in defiance of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of local residents asking for stillness and peace. Yesterday, my daughter hurried to get my attention from the backyard and pointed to the sky where a dark bloom of smoke was rising from the very near horizon, an unavoidable signal that yet another fire had started dangerously close to our home. Jim and I verified it as the Peak Fire on the local news, packed up the rest of our "go-bags," tossed them in the truck and Prius and after rounding up our two cats we headed out, crossing our fingers that the firefighters had enough time to quiet the furious flames before they spread through our neighborhood. We are one of the lucky ones so far. The fire has not touched our homes. The firefighters were fast and efficient.
I received a text from a friend this morning asking me to help her friends secure a new home after having lost their home in the Woolsey Fire. I am grateful for the opportunity to help in the best way I know how - serving one family at a time to find them a place to call home, to rest, to love their family and prepare for what waits ahead of them. From what I understand, the fire's devastation is just the beginning. The aftermath of debris cleanup and inventory paperwork, emotional trauma and rebuilding the family's day-to-day lifestyle without the sentimental "things" around you are experiences we can all do our best to empathize with but never completely understand without having gone through it yourself. I wish more than anything to be able to make a positive difference in the lives of people affected in any way that I can.
This morning we experienced a new flare up burning through Lake Sherwood and into the Mount Boney area of Newbury Park. My prayers are with the thousands', that these fires are contained before more homes are destroyed and lives uprooted. To those who have lost everything, may you find serenity in your heart through the grace and kindness of friends and strangers, may you rebuild magnificently, and may your family grow stronger together.
All my sincerest love and hope for your complete recovery,