Firestorms 2007, Yes, I Was There!

I am finally getting my brain focused after the incredibly scary week last week or week of October 22nd. I moved to California to raise money and connections for Live Hub what I wasn’t expecting were massive wildfires.

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On Monday I woke to the bedroom glowing orange. It was amazing at the same time the sun had never shined like that before. My roommate woke up and we looked at each other and she immediately knew. We ran to the window and saw tons of smoke and raining ash. Panic had overtaken us at this point. We ran outside to our balcony where our neighbors were taking pictures. Trees were down everywhere around our apartment. She said that fires are less than 2 miles away. Lana and I jetted straight to the bedroom and started packing everything we owned. We were like mad women packing our cars as were several other smart people in our complex.

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Lana and I talked to a couple of the people packing their cars they told us all the freeways were blocked, but this was just a rumor. The only way was north on the 5 and apparently everyone was on it. We were told we couldn’t head south, which was bad news because that day we were supposed to go to the Amazon AWS meeting. The other option was to head north because Lana and I were also going to hit up the Stanford campus and I had the She’s Geeky un-conference. We decided if we couldn’t head north we’d go West and head for Vegas, and that’s only because I have family our there. Again, after only being here for about two months and Lana about 6 months we didn’t know back roads or where to go from here. Mind you we don’t have a TV, Radio, or LAN Line telephone. There was no way we would have received the 911 reverse call.

So we got into our cars with the animals and found, yes, all the freeways were closed to the fires jumping over them thus blocking the way for cars. After Lana made a phone call we headed to her co-worker’s house. Still in the same town of Escondido but it had to be safer than where we were.

We arrived at Jim’s to find his house is surrounded by brush. Not a peaceful thought as it was so dry out fires start from out of nowhere. We felt a little safer knowing we were with a family that knew the area and where to go.

We stayed at Jim’s overnight. Lana and I really couldn’t sleep we stayed up and watched the news all night. We also stared out the window watching the smoke roll though and cover the mountains. The ash looked like snow and covered the ground.

That morning we ate breakfast and I had just changed. I had a feeling that something was going to happen. The phone ran and their was a knock at the door. Jim came into the living room where most of us were at and told us it was the sheriff and it was time to go. Another fire had broken out not far from the house. We gathered our things and all the animals packed more water and the caravan headed for Oceanside. Mind you there were about 8 of us with 5 cats and a dog. Have you ever heard the emergency broadcast tests on TV and or the radio and hear the beeps that are followed by “this is only a test, if this were a real emergency…” well, for the first time in my life I heard that in my car and it was followed by someone saying to get the hell out of town!

We arrived in Oceanside at another Air Traffic Controller’s house. There was still smoke moving in. We felt like it was just chasing us. At this point we go to grab a bit to eat. At the restaurant you can see the exhaustion and worry in everybody’s eyes. We really didn’t know what was going on with our apartment or Jim’s house. The worst part of all this is not knowing anything….we were receiving different information and the fact none of us could control anything was the most stressful and nerve-racking.

We headed back to the house in Oceanside when we decided:

a: Lana and I didn’t want to be evacuated for a 3rd time

b: This house wasn’t going to fit all of us and another family

Jim’s family had the same feeling and we headed south to the Hyatt downtown San Diego right by Seaport Village. The Hyatt was cutting deals with evacuees. It was very kind of them to take us and the animals all in. The Hyatt turned into a mini zoo. We had businessman in their suits to dogs on leashes and little kids screaming down the hall. This is when Lana and I realized we left our Tequila at home.

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The next day, Wednesday, Escondido was still being evacuated but we really wanted to see what was going on. We stopped in Del Mar right next to Lana’s work for a hotel room. Again, breaks for the evacuee!! YAY Holiday Inn! Holiday Inn also had Happy Hour for several hours that night. Everybody hit the bar for a drink and swapped stories while watching the Rockies get beat to a pulp.

Thursday we headed back to the apartment. On our way Mr. President and the Arnold were a couple miles from the apartment giving a speech and patting each other on the back. I ended up cleaning the apartment as best as I could because I was still tired beyond belief, but the insane part is the part-time job I have wanted me in to work! It was interesting because the strip mall we are in was an evacuee center. We had people wandering in the next couple days not to buy anything but to keep themselves occupied and off the fact that their houses could be up in flames. It was a very different atmosphere.

As of today, we still see smoke and ash. We still are breathing it. I am just very appreciative that the apartment is still in one piece and so are all the people that helped Lana and out through this disaster. You can still drive around and see exactly where the fires were. There is just nothing..

nothing..

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