Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 5 and Those Magnificent Blue Skies

When your town is small everyone knows everyone else and they probably know where your grandparents went to school and everything about everything.  These people in My Town have been together for generations.  They have watched the town grow from a two lane road to a highway, from Lock's Drugstore to the super Walmart.  They have seen it all.  They have been through so much through the decades that helping one another is not just for funerals, its for anytime someone is in need.  I'm not originally from this town and I'm envious of the connection they have to one another.  Of course, their kindness and generosity isn't only for the natives of this town.  They give freely, its just how they are.

The skies were clear this morning for the second day.  The beautiful blue sky was brilliant and the sun was shining bright and warm.  I had almost forgotten what that looked like.  A cold front brought fresh brisk winds back to our area.  Instead of smoke and fire this time, we had lovely breezes and crisp blue skies.  Five days and finally we are seeing the light at the end of this tunnel.  With the region still primed for more fires, we hold our collective breath but we are feeling less anxious and more hopeful. 

I returned to work for several  hours to help place and receive calls as we urgently tried to find our students and their families.  Many were safe in their own homes and just as many were displaced and scattered across the numerous surrounding counties.  The total count of lost homes now stands at just under 1500.  I have 1500 students that attend my campus.  Those numbers boggle the mind with its enormity. 

Part of our campus was turned into a donation, collection and distribution center.  The outpouring of donated clothing, toiletries and household goods was heartwarming.  We soon had so much that is was open to the public.  Everything free just come in and select what you can use.

Some homes untouched but in the areas affected by the fire will be without utilities for as long as six weeks.  Families are having to relocate even though their world is still standing.  So massive and complete was the fire that half of our town is now gone.  Gone is the magnificent State Park that was the cornerstone of this town.  Gone are the neighborhoods that surrounded the town.  Gone are many of the families that made up our community.

All that may be difficult to imagine to those that live here and are still here.  But something really wonderful is happening here in My Town.  As I mentioned before, the outpouring of generosity simply left me speechless.  As I manned the phones on my campus, I took call after call after call, people saying "What can I do to help?" They were so thoughtful, even asking if I was OK, if my home was OK.  I'm also seeing the young people of this community busy helping, distributing, collecting, moving, being extra hands and using those strong bodies to help those weakened by the fire.

This fire, while it stole so much from so many, left in its path more than charred land and broken homes.  It left a tender, caring spirit in its wake.  I see people caring for each other on a level I've never known before.  It is genuine and it is real.  Its as if the hearts of each person here reached out and grabbed the closest hand to hold.

With the smoke gone and the fires farther away, every new day brings new healing.  Soon we will open our campus doors,the school bell will ring and we will find our way back to the new normal.  It will be OK, we will all be OK because we have each other along with tremendous love from people and places we never even knew existed.

I am blessed to have seen the worst and the best all in a single week. 

No comments:

Post a Comment