The Most Destructive Fire In California History proves Who We are as A Race
Drastic, life-changing events occur in all of our lives, and in those moments we find out what we are made of when they happen. It is up to us to either stand up and deal with what’s given us or to curl up in a ball and give up.
The perseverance of humanity is put to the test when disasters occur.
The very best in people will rise to the surface and shout to the world that we care about others.
That we love!
That we will do whatever we can to help those in need no matter what it is we have to do.
On November 8th, 2018, I Received an unexpected text from my dad. He was forced to evacuate his town due to a fast-moving wildfire.
Paradise, California was on fire.
His house was on little Grand Canyon Drive on the North side of town. He looked out the window and saw houses burning neighboring his.
Grabbing his dogs, he jumped in the car and began the harrowing trek through flames, down the hill into Chico. By 4 o’clock he had arrived at our house, 150 miles south of the fire. It was a mass exodus departing his flaming town, and those displaced had clogged the main California arteries of Interstate 5 and 99. His description of the escape was a nightmare that he could not awake from. That evening, together, we watched the news in disbelief as tragic events unfolded and the entire town of Paradise immersed in flames.
Along with his house, my dad also owns a small chain of restaurants.
One located in Paradise, one in Chico.
They are very popular with the locals for their tasty seafare.
It was not the restaurants that he was concerned with though.
It was not his possessions that he was worried about.
It was not the house that he had left behind.
It was his friends and employees.
All he could think of was them.
All he could talk of was them.
They were first and foremost on his mind and he was frantic in trying to find out where they were, if they had got out and if they were all right. His concern for them went much further than that though.
He wondered how they were going to make ends meet.
How were they going to pay their bills?
How were they going to keep afloat during and after this tragedy?
He had left his house in his pajamas and the only possession he had was the car he escaped in.
Yet, all that he could think of was others.
Even the cat that he had to leave behind. He called for Baxter several times before evacuating, but being the outdoor type, his furry friend was nowhere to be found.
The next day, we decided to get a feel for what was going on and be a part of it all. A thick wall of smoke inundated the town of Chico. Nearly the entire state was in the high 80’s that day, but the city was so choked with smoke and deprived of sunlight that it was a chilly 46 degrees. We went by his Chico restaurant to see it’s condition and the proximity to the encroaching fire, but it was safe. Several more calls to his employees from Paradise confirmed that they were OK, but many had lost their homes. He offered the Chico restaurant as a refuge for any that needed it and one employee took the offer and lived there for a time. Any FEMA info that he discovered he passed to them, in hopes that they might get some financial relief. We checked the animal shelters and makeshift repositories for his missing cat, Baxter.
Even though my dad had lost all of his possessions — his entire world — his entire way of life.
His main concern was for others — though he had nothing.
What does this say?
What can you think of humanity after reading these words?
We are good.
Humanity is good.
I go on here for a reason.
I tell this story for a reason.
My dad is just one person effected by the Camp Fire.
He is one in thousands that did the same during the Camp Fire.
He is just one in the tens of thousands of people that felt the strong need to help others during the Camp fire.
We saw it day after day in Chico.
Huge piles of donated supplies were everywhere.
Blankets, water, food — all were piled in to the point where donations had to be denied! There were so many donations that they needed to be refused! What does that say? What does that say about us, as a race?
On reflecting back on this life-changing experience it becomes clear that even though an entire town has burned to the ground, a great deal of love, caring and compassion has come from the experience.
The love that we have for one another cannot be hidden when disaster strikes. It comes to the fore. It makes itself known loud and clear even to the most heartless of us. The compassion we feel for one another cannot be covered up when so many helpless people are in need.
This is us.
This is humanity.
Everyone fills with empathy when so many are in need of it. No one is immune to it when it is needed the most.
Not even the most selfish among us.
Why does it take a cataclysm to show compassion for each other?
Why does adversity have to bring out the very best in us?
I believe it is shock value.
Tragedy and disaster sends an abrupt jolt to the spirit that quickens in us the desire to care for others. That tendency lies dormant within us until the need arises.
Why must we wait?
You already know you care about others.
Put your ego aside and do something about it now.
That is what we do when there is a disaster.
We put all ego aside.
We think nothing of ourselves and everything of everyone else.
Do not put it off and wait for a disaster to occur.
Do it now.
You know who you love.
You know who you care about.
You know what is right from wrong and it does not matter one bit what anyone else thinks.
What would you rather do?
Curl up in a corner alone and hide your true nature?
Make it known now, how you feel now to others and you will find Paradise.
This is humanity at its best. If you have a poor opinion of who we are as a race. If you think that the majority of humanity is a lost cause. If you think that the whole lot of us ought to be flushed down the toilet —
come to Paradise, California — it has been found.
By the way, after not being able to access to his property for seven weeks, my dad found his cat alive when he returned.