It’s been a trying time in our beautiful state.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in a Sunday press conference called the wildfires ravaging the state “the new abnormal,” warning environmental disasters will only “intensify” over the next two decades.
“Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify,” he added.
I’ve been thinking back to my small efforts to bring my garden into alignment with the realities of living in our semi-arid state. They seem trivial now as we wait for rain, watching helplessly as forests burn, destroying homes and lives.
My friend Laura moved to Paradise, California in June, looking forward to starting a slower-paced life away from Silicon Valley. She’s been fixing up their new home, installing a fence to contain their dog and choosing paint colors for the walls. Their contractor just finished a stairway to the deck.
Last Thursday, Laura’s family and others fled the small town of Paradise as one of the fastest moving and most destructive fires in California history tore through her town. Harrowing tales of fleeing down the highway with walls of flames on both sides are the norm. As of this writing, 138,000 acres burned, over 10,000 structures including homes have been destroyed and the death toll today climbed to 56. 52,000 people have been evacuated.
On Sunday, Laura learned that her home was one of the 5% that survived, but it’s small comfort. The fire is expecting to burn for another two weeks, and when it’s finally out, the infrastructure is gone. Without phone lines, cell towers or electricity, there isn’t much to go back to. She’s staying here in the Valley with her folks, desperate to return home and hoping her cat is okay.
Meanwhile, a second massive fire burns in Southern California.
Our beautiful planet must surely weep with the agony of her destruction.
I appreciate all my friends out of the area that have reached out in concern. We live in Silicon Valley, and though close to forested areas, we’re a safe distance from the flames. Smoke from the fires hangs over the Bay Area, creating unhealthy air quality for a week. Schools are keeping children indoors and local marathons and foot races cancelled till further notice.
There is a sense of collective grief, with everyone knowing someone that’s been affected by these fires. We all want to help.
For now, we wait and hope.