My Story, Yours Too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Camp Fire, Nearly One Year Later

Dear Sillies,
   May this find you in good spirits, and looking forward to a fun, yummy Halloween.
   For now, a little detour to share segments of my short story on my experiences jumping in as a volunteer in the Camp Fire's aftermath. A true story. [I've submitted this piece, Good Lies, for publication. Fingers crossed.]
   We're approaching one year since the devastation of 11/8/18. Phenomenal recovery continues. So too does intense sadness and loss, hardship and pain, sickness and death--seemingly unending residue of that monstrous force.


   This scene takes us to the Walmart parking lot, wherein hundreds of volunteers and Camp Fire victims/survivors convened. I'd heard about activity there. With no plan or faith that I could help, I pushed myself to do so. 
   Below, with me, you'll meet Joseph.

                                                internet stock photo
Good Lies --part I.

   "Are you doing okay?" Dumb question.
   The man stood. His face reddened, as he took two even steps towards me then stopped. "Am I doing okay? Am I okay? What the hell do you think lady? What are you like some do-gooder who’s about to tell me I have to leave, right?"
   "Well, I don’t want you out here when it starts to rain."
   "You’re f*cking kidding me! I’m not budging." I see that. "Do you have any idea? Any idea what I’ve been through? I stayed. I stayed for 18 f*ckin hours. I stayed to protect my home in Concow. Not just for me, for my neighbors, for my friends. I stayed and kept hosing it down, the lawns, the roofs, the trucks, everything. Only me and my buddy Dan stayed. What do I get for that? It’s all f*ckin burned! The whole town." He turned his head to his side and spit out a wad of saliva. "My only home. My mama’s home. Now you’re telling me to leave. These people are feeding us and being nice to us. It’s like family here. But I can’t even get FEMA help because I lost my ID in the Fire. And you’re telling me to leave. F*ck that!"
   "You can’t get FEMA help?"
   "No, no ID. You have to have an ID."
   That didn’t seem right. "Can I make a phone call for you?"
   His demeanor lightened. "Yeah."
   "Okay," I extended my hand. "I’m Robyn."
   "I’m Joseph. Hey, I’m sorry. I’m just," he huffed, "It’s been one hell of a year." His eyes welled.
   "I’m sure it has."
   I plopped down on the ground, pulled out my resource list, and called FEMA. Someone answered. She was helpful too. I wrote step-by-step instructions for Joseph, and I gave him my number.
   He said he’d be fine taking it from there.

                           He wouldn't be. Stay tuned. 

32 comments:

  1. Wow, I didn't realize there would be an issue with no ID.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Alex.
      And yeah, the obstacles are ludicrous and endless, when dealing with Fed or State help. It's unbelievable - friends have been turned down for all help because of not being able to prove certain things. All nonsensical.

      Delete
  2. Powerful, and sadly familiar.
    I do hope your piece gets published. Some stories NEED to be told.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, EC. I think my story has a unique perspective. Most will be first-hand accounts.

      I hope you're taking good care.

      Delete
  3. I've been applying for social work jobs again. People keep asking me why. I say for the money (you're laughing with me, right?). But it's for times like that. Being in a place where we can help. That's what's really important in this life.

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    Replies
    1. I hear you, girlfriend. There aren't words for situations like this, in which we know we matter to another human being. Glad you're re-joining the charge.

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  4. Dear Robyn, these stories must be told. They're important, as are you. Brava! I'm moved by this post and will definitely "stay tuned".

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, my dear friend. It was a challenge to write, and now it's challenging to share in digestible bites. It does feel important to share. Joseph and I would/did profoundly impact each other.

      Virtual hugs.

      Delete
  5. This little taste of your short story makes me want more! I hope it gets published! Hard to believe it's been almost a year already. And now the fires are threatening again. Good luck to all!

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    Replies
    1. I know. I can't believe it either. The shock and sadness is still very fresh. Sigh.

      Thank you for your supportive words.

      Delete
  6. A year sure flew by, but it will forever remain by those affected. Wow, they held things up just because of ID? Gotta love paper pushers.

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    1. There was a way to get around it - he knew/has his SSN and card. But what if you don't, it's all burned? Sigh. So many people fall further into helplessness, and it's no wonder.

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  7. Replies
    1. Yeah, and this isn't the tip of the iceberg, Diane.
      Stay tuned.
      Thanks.

      Delete
  8. In a few short paragraphs you captured so much. Wow! and Whoa!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Joanne. It's a 2200 word story, hard to dissect, but I sifted out the things that would be capture Joseph's ordeal.

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you, Bathwater.
      Coming soon.

      PS I appreciate you being here, and it's great to meet you.

      Delete
  10. The emotions of those survivors were raw, I'm sure. You caught our attention with the opening of this story.

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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    1. Thanks, Sage. The full story starts several pages earlier. But I'm honing in on Joseph. He had the biggest impact on me.
      Be well.

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  11. Moving and heartbreaking. I hope your article is published, Robyn.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Connie.
      I'm hopeful for that and will try other means if not in this one.

      Be well.

      Delete
  12. Great job with that guy. I hope you are safe as well right now.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Chris.
      I am - but sheesh! Such a big price to pay, in many ways, to live in this golden state.
      Be well and safe yourself.

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  13. Replies
    1. I dunno - PETA might've been more helpful for him.
      FEMA is not exactly well loved around here. PETA's appreciated more.
      Cheers.

      Delete
  14. No one can/must forget Camp wildfire, the Paradise wildfire. Those still wondering where their families are after the fire.

    Kindness meant something to such a broken man.

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  15. Excuse my absence, Dears.
    I was in SoCal. Made it home safely last night.
    Will get a Halloween post up asap.
    Love you.

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