Saturday, October 27, 2007


I'm so happy to report that everyone we know & love in San Diego is ok. Some property was damaged, almost all of it is covered in soot & ash and in some cases water mixed in - but for the most part nobody we know has lost a home or a major amount of property. Two different people called it "stuff" (quoted in both emails) in their messages to me - because "that's all it really is". The constant in these messages is the outpouring of generosity and the coming together of the San Diego communities. Apparently there are constant comparisons to the Katrina disaster, however I respectfully disagree. The damaged caused by water - and consequently disease-filled STANDING water are of no match to the fires that destroyed (in comparison) far fewer homes in San Diego. These folks have insurance for the most part and are lucky enough to have been evacuated in a very organized manner - even with the road closures and traffic.

I thought I'd post a bit of the stories I had received for you to read. If you aren't interested, skip on down to the photos I posted at the bottom.

Earlier this week from Anastasia - mom of Seeger, who was in Mia's hip hop dance class (she rides horses, and owns Raven, her own horse as well):

We briefly had two sets of
visitors evacuated from Scripps Ranch that came
to our house; the family left after a couple of
hours, but my friend Chris stayed with her cat (KC of Bowman Family fame stayed with Chris who was sweet enough to take her!!) and two turtles and valuables. She was allowed to go home this afternoon.

However, the real drama for the last 24 hours has
been with the horses. Canyonside Stables is
located less than a mile and a half north of our
house, in Rancho Peñasquitos. We boarders were
very concerned because the Witch Creek fire was
all over Poway (northeast of the ranch), and
mandatory evacuations had been called for a huge
swath of our part of San Diego County, from I-15
inland to the I-5 on the coast, and from State
Route 56 north to the 78. The ranch is just a
few miles south of the 56 and west of the 15, and
the concern is always the difficulty of not only
transportation but of finding care for large
animals like horses. A lot of people had been
very edgy and began evacuating the ranch, but the
official large animal evacuation points were in
Del Mar at the Fairgrounds, Polo Fields, and Show
Park...exactly in the direction that the fire was
heading...and later was declared full. A
minority of us has horse trailers, and the rest
of the boarders were frantically trying to
arrange rides to evacuation sites. ...and then
as dusk fell, a few people understood that we
were to evacuate (later found to be a
misunderstanding / assumption due to panic), and
chaos began. Our local evacuation point was a
Little League field in Mira Mesa, but only a few
people seemed to know exactly where this was. A
friend that had been evacuated from Ramona to our
ranch, and I hauled out four horses and her two
dogs and cat. After searching for about an hour,
we got a call from the ranch requesting that I
return with a trailer to take out more horses,
and thus we were able to locate the evacuation
point: a chain-link-fenced Little League
field. Horses were tied to the fence (not very
safe at all) and apparently people planned to sit
their holding their horses all night long. When
I went back to the ranch, I realized that it was
much colder there and the wind had stopped, and
so my friend and I made the decision to return
our horses to Canyonside and sleep in our
vehicles, ready to flee if necessary. (Steven
stayed home with the boys, watching out for our
house.) This morning, the ranch still was not
experiencing the heavy Santa Ana winds that are
fueling the fires all over Southern California,
and so I went to the evacuation site and offered
rides back to the ranch. At first, very few
people were willing to leave what they considered
safety, but my point was that the humans and the
horses were all exhausted from spending the night
at the field, and if the wind shifted we needed
to be rested and ready to move. Slowly, people
began to take me up on offers of rides back to
the ranch. This sounds straightforward, but it
isn't because a large number of these horses do
not know how to be loaded into a horse
trailer. While the 10 or so trips that I made
today should not have been a big deal, I ended up
having to give trailer-loading "lessons" to a lot
of frightened horses in less-than-ideal
conditions before I could get them out of the
evacuation site and back home. I finally got
home around 3:00; the shower felt amazing, and we
went to dinner--I was STARVING since all I had
had was a Starbucks this morning at the only open
Starbucks near us (in Albertsons). While the
Santa Anas and the high heat are predicted to
continue through tomorrow, the smoke has abated
significantly, and so I'm spending the night at
home tonight...although the Jeep and trailer are
loaded and ready to go at the ranch, just in case.

So...we're doing fine. All San Diego Unified
schools (as well as others) are closed for the
remainder of the week, so Seger and I (at least)
will be home tomorrow (Wednesday), and possibly
for the rest of the week, too--we'll have to play
it by ear. I understand that in San Diego County
alone there have been over 600 homes
destroyed. In a really frightening twist, many
of the places in Rancho Bernardo and Poway that
Steven and I have been looking to move to
burned. Wow. So...we're very lucky that we're
fine and Raven and the rest of the horses at the ranch are fine, too.

Okay, I have to get the dogs fed and the boys to
bed...and I will most likely collapse as well as
the adrenaline is finally wearing off. Please
keep your fingers crossed that the wind stays
calm for us, and that the poor people in harm's
way get a break in the weather that's not
predicted to let up until tomorrow afternoon. I
can't believe that four years ago we went through
the worst natural disaster...and now we've far
exceeded that damage, although not the loss of
life, which is what's important. Again, I see
the best of people coming out: The community in
front of the ball field kept coming out to us to
offer to run a hose across the street in case the
horses needed water, and these non-horsey
neighbors brought carrots and apples. When the
going gets tough, the best of humanity pulls through.

From my dear friend & former coworker, Taryn, who lives in Ramona:

Got evacuated on Sunday night with the whole town of Ramona, took 3 1/2 hours to get out to Lakeside, luckily Gavyn (Taryn & Jason's 6-year-old son) was not too panicked. My uncle's house burnt down which is very sad, they are both over 80 and have lived in the house for 50 years, as far as I know all our houses are fine, my answering machine is picking up at least. I think we are burned all the way around the house but not sure. Anyway, we have already been out since Sunday and there is no water in the town of Ramona so we don't know when we will be going back, staying at Grannys and going crazy, completely crazy, thanks for emailing. I think that everyone from work is fine as far as I know. This is a mess. I have heard that the whole end of main street by the Sizzler has burned down. I am sure it will be very tragic when we get back home.

From another friend and my former VP of HR, Anne, and her sister-in-law and a dear friend & former coworker of mine, Jennifer:

Jen and I are fine. We were evacuated early this morning. Jen is now w/her folks in San Marcos. We decided to head home, as we heard we might be able to swing it. We're here. It's extremely smokey, but inside the house is not too bad. The neighborhood has been spared, but so much of RB has been hit...mostly one area. So sad! We'll know more tomorrow, I'm sure. Steve couldn't even go to work if he wanted, as the 15N was closed. True devastation.
Thanks for your concerns.

Thank you for checking in. We are good here and back home. Our plight was nothing at all but 48 hours or so away from home, we lost one tree, soot, ashes and a few singed plants. We are blessed to still have our "stuff" (which is all it is). Mostly, we are blessed to have each other. So many others have sooo much more to deal with and my heart goes out to them.
We were awakened by my Mom calling at 5am asking if we were evacuating. Uhhh...what...was the gist of my response. Sure enough we turned on the tv to find that basically all of RB was under evacuation and that Westwood was burning down right that moment. We quickly packed some essentials, kids, cat and dog and headed off to Qualcomm. After hanging out at the q for about 4 hours we decided it was too much to bear with kids, cat and dog. We quickly went to plan b. Go to mom's despite the advisory evacuation at her house. Her evac warning was lifted and there we spent the night. We finally decided to brave going home (knowing that people had spent the night safely in our little neighborhood).
What is most incredible, is the way the community of San Diego has pulled together. As we left Qualcomm (evac site one for us) to head for my Mom and Dad's a man stopped us in the parking lot and asked of we wanted some of his granola bars for the road for our boys. I said, "no, thank you." And he replied, "how about a prayer?" I said, sure and there he knelt on the ground as I sit waiting in the car (with the door open) and said a prayer with me for the safety of my house and family. What a beautiful gesture from a complete stranger. It makes me well up with tears thinking about it.
We are still cleaning and as many others will be for days to come. In the midst we are still preparing for our Halloween party this weekend. Hell house is still standing...I am having a party. We hope it can help friends re-connect or just get away from the chaos for a couple of hours.

From Mike Newman - old family friend. Let's just say we've known each other since early elementary school:

Thank you all for your concern with respect to our home and the San Diego fires. Each of you either directly or indirectly conveyed your concerns regarding our welfare, and I wanted to provide a final update to everyone with respect to the fires and our house. We evacuated on Monday morning, and were finally permitted to return to the house today. When we returned, we discovered that the wildfire had entered our property and burned more than a dozen trees in our yard. The fire probably encroached 50 feet onto our property, but the firefighters did a superb job in keeping the fire away from our house. They used so much water on the trees and our yard, that the ground was still mushy and wet 48 hours after the fire passed. If not for their efforts in fighting back the fire, our house very easily could have been destroyed. Instead, other than the burned trees, our house and property were fine (black and sooty, but fine).
We also have an investment property in another part of Rancho Santa Fe, and like our home, the wildfire entered that property too and burned trees and vegetation. Again, the firefighters did an awesome job of protecting the house, which escaped unscathed. Someone we know actually saw the firefighters on television, on our driveway, protecting that house. They watered down the entire house, in addition to the yard, in order to protect it.
We are extremely fortunate that the wildfire entered both properties, yet caused no damage to either house. I'll be back at work tomorrow morning, grateful to get back to normal.

And lastly, from our former neighbors and friends, the Woodie family:

Definitely a strange week. I think I sent you pics from Julian from last Sunday, when we rolled through Witch Creek just a couple hours before the huge fire erupted there. We spent Sunday night glued to our TVs as the Witch fire rolled down past Ramona and towards Poway, then we finally got evacuated on Monday afternoon. That’s an experience I’ll never forget – going through our house looking for the “stuff” that really mattered, and would fit in the car – but it turned out all right in the end so that’s all that matters. That night was pretty crazy as well – we headed over to the 5 because the 15 was closed heading North, with me in my Jeep and Heather and the kids in her car, and rolled along through the smoke (holding my shirt over my face in the open Jeep – that was particularly dumb to have taken 2 cars but whatever) up to the 76 and then cut across. Heather was only a couple of car lengths behind me, but she missed a light about half-way across the 76 and right after I rolled through they shut it down, redirecting me South again and her back West. Ugh. I was pretty close to the 15 at that point so I kept going, trying to see if we could get through on the 15 into Temecula/Murrieta where we were going to stay with her parents. I made my way to within a mile or so of Rainbow before it was all shut down and I had to turn back because of the fire that was raging in Rainbow/Fallbrook. Ugh again. So I had to head back down to the 78, all the way across to the 5 (again in the smoke from the fires just a few miles South of the 78 along the Del Dios highway) and then up the 5 where I had almost caught up with Heather. We finally met up again at the Ortega highway and the 5, and we crossed over the Ortega – a tricky drive even on a good day – to Elsinore and finally to Murrieta. 6 hours after we had left Scripps Ranch, we landed in Murrieta. The kids were unbelievable troopers, and even the dogs were in good shape, but everyone was pretty exhausted, and the information was pretty sketchy up there, as the L.A. stations were focused on Malibu and Orange County fires.

Very luckily, the fire moving towards Poway didn’t make much headway that night and the direction it was going meant it pretty much had to go through the heart of Poway and then through all of new Scripps Ranch to get to us, but with the crazy winds anything was possible. By Tuesday at noon, the fire just wasn’t moving our way any more and they lifted the evacuation order for us and some parts of Poway (which was the really good news – if it wasn’t threatening those parts of Poway, it sure wasn’t going to threaten us), and we headed back home. The 15 was open at that point, so our trip home was mercifully short.

Now for your viewing enjoyment - Mia with a doggie at the OOARS Doggie Wash Benefit. His name is Checkers:
Richard - the fabulous cook at Somchai...holy cow some of the best Thai food - nay - best FOOD I've ever eaten:

Our kid, Mia - in her pumpkin fairy costume she wore to Logan's 6th birthday party. Very exciting.

No comments: