My Story, Yours Too.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Paradise Lost

My Dear Friends,
   I can hardly find one syllable, much less the words to inform you about the staggering devastation in my part of the world.
   I am fine, lucky to be safe. Chico has remained intact. Yet the Chico and Paradise connection is uniquely, lovingly enmeshed. Two very different cities (different demographics, politics, size, climate, lifestyle), somehow we and our Paradise neighbors have grown closer than close. Only ten miles apart, scores of people live/d in one city, commute/d to the other for work. Birth families are/were split between the two. My friends from Paradise have spent oodles of time in Chico, and vice versa.

   A handful of you might recall that seven years ago, I moved to Chico for a job in Paradise.


February, 2011 Sign reads "May you find Paradise to be all its name implies."

   Last Thursday, November 8, within one day, an unbelievably monstrous fire tore through and ravaged Paradise - which had been home to over 27,000 people -- many, sick, elderly, and impoverished.
                                                       November 8, 2018 photo by Skip Culton


   An entire town lost its homes, schools, businesses, precious heirlooms, farms, horses, beloved pets, musical instruments and studios, . . . so much that cannot or won't ever be replaced. Remnants of bone are still being found; numbers of the dead may reach into the hundreds.
   I'm relieved to say that my friends and clients are alive and safely housed - though they lost everything but the clothes they wore to escape. 
   As of now, the fires are only 40% contained. It seems Chico is out of harm's way, as vicious winds push the fires into Paradise's other surrounding cities. Air quality is off-the-charts hazardous, here and throughout much of northern California.
   There aren't words for this type of devastation. Well, I can articulate that I'm extremely grateful.  I am housed, safe, and loved by many. I also feel guilty. I'm fine. I haven't done enough.
  And there's too much to do. The needs of our new neighbors (survivors) are endless.
  Our love and determination to help carry them through is also infinite.
  It's going to be a very, very long recovery process.
   In the midst of it all, heroism and love. I hear story after story - a man who drove his Toyota Tundra to and from Paradise to save people. He got out of it just before it melted. He didn't care; he was thrilled to have saved lives. Upon learning about this, Toyota promised him a new truck.
   A man risked his life (as did countless unsung heroes) to keep his and his neighbors' home intact. When asked how they could repay him, he said he'd be happy with a case of beer! (I hope it's high end stuff. Is there "high end" beer?)
   Local churches, the fairgrounds, and the Chico Airport are housing evacuees.  Businesses are serving free food. People are opening up their homes to whole families, asking nothing in return.
   A soft heartedness pervades.
   As I sat in an In N Out for the luxury of chocolate milkshake therapy, a woman at the table next to me asked if I'd been affected by the fires. I told her that I was fine, but I evacuated for a few days -- to be safe. She then offered to buy me food. (So sweet. She doesn't know me, and that I consider a chocolate milkshake to be a nutritious meal. Thus, I was deeply touched.)
   One of my clients gave me flowers recently, saying she's thankful for me.

   Some of you have checked in on me, and that means the world.
   Humankindness endures.
   It survives the worst of tragedies.
   It won't be destroyed.
   It will outlive this unrelenting nightmare too.

This article by a survivor and Chico Professor, Sarah Pape, is incredibly well written. I don't know how she wrote it, despite her own pain and shattered heart. She's amazing.

  Please don't worry about me. I'll be fine.
  Stay safe, my dears.
  Take care of yourselves.
  I love you.

45 comments:

  1. Sadly these fires are not unknown to us here. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

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    1. Thanks for your constant and consistent TLC, EC.
      Stay safe over there too.
      Your love is appreciate and returned.

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  2. Yes, there is such a thing as high end beer. I don't know the names of the brands, though, because I don't drink beer. My nephew says you can get extra good beer at Whole Foods. Just when I think people are too selfish to be believed, then they come through for anyone who needs help. What a good post, Robyn. I'm so glad you're safe.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Hm, it must be gluten free beer. ?
      Thanks so much, dear friend.
      Love.

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  3. So relieved that you are safe, Robyn. I can't imagine what it must be like to witness this fire. Take care of yourself - you mean a lot to your blog friends.

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    1. That makes me feel important. Thank you, Wilma.
      Take care too.

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  4. Yikes! Didn't realize this was in your back yard! Glad you're safe and sound. Thinking of all those in Paradise who lost family and friends, oh dear that's so sad.

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    1. Thank you, Debra. Yes, too close for comfort - but I can sit and sleep comfortably now. Air quality isn't improving and the fires continue to rage. Too much for words.

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  5. Glad you are safe indeed. Didn't realize the fires were so close to you. Awful in every way what all in the path have to go through.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. It's incomprehensible. Yet, I'm lucky.

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  6. I keep hoping and praying for rain. This is so horrible. Fire season scared me way more than the earthquakes did.

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    1. They'd forecasted rain for the upcoming week, JoJo. May it pour and pour. Yeah, it's more scary than earthquakes - feels more vicious.
      Take care of you.

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  7. So happy you haven't suffered like far too many others. Stay safe!

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  8. Glad you're safe, dear Robyn. As you imply, the full horror hasn't hit yet. But thanks for putting a human face on this. Those of us who know folks in Paradise, Magalia, are especially appreciative. My grandDaughters are wearing face-filters in SF and Norma wears one here --as do most people out and about. Many of our schools are closed because of poor air quality and collegiate athletic events have repaired to Nevada. Keep transmitting, there is kindness going on too.

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    1. Butte County schools will now be closed until December. Sigh.
      But we shall keep transmitting, Geo. A surplus of kindness abounds. Gratitude.

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  9. It is so heartbreaking to see the devastation there and hear the stories of the people in Paradise and surrounding areas. I can't even begin to imagine how horrific it must be for those who have lost their homes and all that they own. I'm so glad to hear you are safe and well, Robyn. Bless all those who are helping those in need and being so generous with their own resources.

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  10. I'm so happy you are safe, Robyn. News of the devastation has reached us up in Canada. It is really heartbreaking. I cannot imagine what some people are going through.

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  11. very glad you are safe, my friend, and that the folks you truly know are too. It's heartrending. Thoughts don't do enough. Wish I was there to buy milkshakes for all. Take care and give everyone around you a big hug

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    1. Oh, milkshakes for all would be more than appreciated.
      You're awesome, Joanne.
      Big hugs to you too.

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  12. Was planning to send email today. Kept waiting for a post. So glad you at least are ok. So heartbreaking to read about the rest.

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    1. You're so kind. Thank you, Mitchell.
      I'm sorry for the delay. First, I'd lost internet connection - in the midst of having left town. Then, I had to attempt to collect my thoughts. Still working on that one.
      Take care over there.

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  13. Oh my God. I'm so glad you are safe and out of danger, although you won't be breathing well for a while. What is with the destruction lately? The horrible hurricanes on our side and now fires on yours.

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    1. Mother Nature's on a roll - climate change and all...sigh. Each day of safety and housing is a gift.
      Thank you, Diane. Stay safe over there.

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  14. So glad you and yours are safe. Share your heartfelt concern for others and wonder when things will be contained. So much horror, so much devastation. So much to do, how does one know where to begin?

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  15. So glad you're safe. My daughter's family had to move in with us for a few days because of a mandatory evacuation order for the Woolsey (So. Cal.) fire. They & their house are OK. Scary stuff!!

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    1. Yeah, my family in Torrance had some warnings too. It's all horrid, not nearly as horrid in So Cal as it was in Nor Cal this time round - plus we had to endure a visit from the orange ruler today. =)
      Stay safe, my dear.

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  16. I had no idea you were so close to these fires but I am very happy you are ok. My concern is still for you because you have friends who lived in Paradise and I hope they are ok. So many are missing still and I feel so bad for everyone. From this devastation one hears about the people who are true heroes. These are the brave firefighters, first responders, the brave people who help bring out the Others from the fire but the many people who are giving food, clothing and lodging. Stay safe

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    1. Thank you, Birgit. Yes, our niche of the world was slaughtered. I cannot begin to imagine the horrors that they went through, only 10 or so miles from me. How lucky I am! Yet, as you and I have said, there are bright lights to be found. And most of the survivors are now safely, warmly housed. Thank goodness.

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  17. Hi Robyn, I just want to tell you again how glad I am that you are safe and doing as well as can be expected. I really want to reach out and help. Tell me what I need to do. I've reached out to our local Food Bank and a couple of organizations here in Houston, am waiting to hear back. I just feel so helpless. Earlier today I was feeling pretty sad about really stupid things. Then I remembered how so many people have lost so much and even died as a result of the fires. I felt guilty then. So please, let me know what I can do or how I can help. I am praying for all of you. Praying that those who lost their homes, their valuables, their, find a shimmer of hope in this cluster chaos that is their life right now. -Hugs and love to you

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    1. You're angelic, Yvonne. Thank you for your caring heart. There's an abundance of love going around. It brings warm tears. Alex also checked in too. I referred him to the same place I'm going to refer you to (if you want to make a monetary donation). I know the Director of this local organization, and I have full trust that the dollars will go directly into meeting survivors needs. It's www.NVCF.org (North Valley Community Foundation). If you're wanting to help with in-kind donations, feel free to email me at Rawknrobyn@aol.com. Good news is that most of the survivors are safely housed now. <3

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  18. It kills me that you had to edure this suffering but I am in love with the strength and caring that you showed when called up to help.

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    1. I am in love with your love for me.
      And your rugged, witty spirit.
      Thank you, Cal.

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  19. Glad to hear you are okay. I was worried when I heard how close it was, and have been praying. Stay safe.

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    1. Thank you, Chris. This, in spite of our differences, means the world to me. You're a fine man.
      Have a grateful Thanksgiving.

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  20. Sad that all this suffering from these fires still happen.

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    1. It's beyond heartbreaking.

      Thanks for your concern, Sheena.

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  21. I’m also glad that you are safe and continuing to help your neighbors from Paradise, It’s great that you’re part of such a gracious community in Chico. I hope the fires subside soon. I’m also a believer in “chocolate milkshake therapy,” Cheers to a happy Thanksgiving, Robyn!

    Julie

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    1. Thank you, sweet Julie.
      It's great to see you here. Thank you for making the effort.
      Have a warmloving and grateful Thanksgiving!
      Love and healing.

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  22. I didn't realize you lived there. I'm so glad you're safe. I can't even imagine how tragic this is for everyone. It's tragic for the rest of us in the country too, who are donating with every grocery store purchase, and feeling for those going through so much anguish and loss.

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    1. Thank you for your big heart, Rosey. Every act of kindness means the world, and there are infinite acts. We in Chico are deeply appreciative to have so much help in carrying our neighbors through.
      A very grateful Thanksgiving to you.

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  23. Obviously relieved that you are okay, and that you're friends and clients are okay. That's pretty incredible really given the destruction and death toll.
    Those stories you shared are incredible. There are truly some extraordinary people around. You just don't know who they are until something like this happens. Naturally we'd prefer it didn't happen.
    I hope you are able to help out in the weeks ahead if that is something you wish to do as it sounds like you want to, which is not a surprise, considering your generous nature and huge heart. A big hug to you Robyn and a terrible situation for so many people. Horrible, horrible horrible.

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