Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Rachel’s Fire Story

    On 9/8/20 at 1:30 pm we had a knock on our door in the Anjou apartments in Talent and were told to LEAVE NOW! We knew there was a fire in Ashland but did not know it was coming our way RAPIDLY! We grabbed a few things (for some reason both my sister and I grabbed an extra pair of shoes, but not much else) and left with the clothes on our backs. We were caught in intense traffic, taking quite some time to get to Medford. We went to the library to use the computers so we could let friends and family know what was happening.

     Not realizing the seriousness of what was happening, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at Porters before finding a room for the night. We still didn’t clue in when our waitress had to leave to go rescue her kitty in Phoenix, as she was under an evacuation order. As we were leaving, we realized Porters was closing so staff could go home. Still, we nonchalantly headed to Central Point where we knew there was a Holiday Express. However, they were full and we were told there was nothing available until Roseburg. It began to register with us that things were very serious.

     We had heard people were being told to go to Expo and that was close, so we headed there. Expo was being set up as a shelter. After parking, we wandered around. There was food and water available. We “slept” (not much) in our car that night but found out the next day we could get cots. They had breakfast and lunch for us. We secured a couple cots (blankets provided), but a fire was now threatening the Expo and we were advised to leave. Life had become downright scary now.

     We headed north with a herd. I had heard there was a shelter being set up at the fairgrounds in Grants Pass, so we went there. When we got there, they sent us to Parkway Christian church. They were setting up a shelter in their parking lot with cots. We slept that first night on cots outside with bedding provided, but it was pretty chilly. They moved us inside to a gym the next day because the smoky air was becoming hazardous. These folks were amazing! They provided three meals a day to everybody (including some homeless who wandered in) and bedding, toiletries, showers, and vouchers for clothes at Goodwill.

     We now realized that our home may have burned. The reports about Talent and Phoenix were horrifying. A friend of mine, in Ashland, got in touch and offered us a place to stay, but she couldn’t provide for us until Sunday. Parkway was closing the shelter as they found spots for everyone, so the Pastor and his wife took us to their home for Saturday night and fed us! 

     Meanwhile, our brother (who lives in North Carolina) had managed to find out that Anjou had been saved and we got in contact with management there. We couldn’t go home yet, but HOME EXISTED! We went to my friend’s on Sunday and were able to stay there until we could get back to our place the following Friday. After five days in shelters and 5 days at my friend’s, we drove to Talent to find Anjou standing with devastation all around.

     Every time I pick something up in our apartment, I can’t help thinking how close it came to being burnt. This feels like not only a major lesson in IMPERMANENCE, but also a huge reminder of the kindness of strangers, the caring of family and friends, and how we need to help each other and take care of our planet.

     Whenever we go anywhere now, we witness the devastation others are facing. At least WE have a place to live, but the loss all around us remains stark and heartbreaking.

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     The purpose of this blog is to document the history of the Almeda Fire. To protect contributors, we have intentionally not allowed comm...