Monday, October 22, 2007

Wicked Witch of the West

Throughout the Denver Broncos game last night, and during the entire half-time, the TV screen kept flashing with updates about the evacuated areas in Southern California due to the growing winds that kept the nearby fires spreading.

I had a flashback to 4 years ago to the date - just about - when I was six months pregnant with my son, and my ex-husband and I were just moving into the place where my son and I still reside. We drove South, past the wildfires that had just jumped across Highway 15 towards the direction of our new home, which we hadn't even slept in at that point.

Fast forward four years and my son and I are inside, doors and windows shut tight, air conditioner and humidifier running while all I could smell was fire. What used to be a pleasant reminder of bonfires is now a brutal reality that the fires could once again spread quickly and threaten our home and of course, those in our neighboring communities.

We watched the news - and the football game - and after my son fell asleep I made sure I had packed away the belongings and personal items that I would take with us come morning.

I really couldn't get much sleep. I kept tossing and turning. The smell of smoke grew stronger throughout the night, as did the howling winds and I kept thinking about what we would do, where we would go, what I would take with us.

Just as I assumed, the morning sun did not peek through the smoke. Ash was now falling from the sky. My son and I made two trips to the car before finally feeling ready to leave, not knowing when exactly we'd be back. I ended up taking him into the Kane/Miller office with me while I took care of a few things, but mostly just needed the comfort of being around other people. There was no reason to really be working since a State of Emergency had been declared for all of San Diego County, as well as six other counties in Southern California.

My son is with his dad this evening. I am staying with one of the founders of Kane/Miller, as she has kindly opened up her home to me. This is the first time I have spent the night here but certainly not the first time her spare bedroom has been offered. In fact, I had a key to her house on my key chain for nearly six months after my ex-husband filed for divorce and things started to become unsettled in the home front.

I have become rather close with the Kane family and all of the employees during my nearly seven years with the company. I am grateful for all they have done for me, both personally and professionally. It was Mrs. Kane and her husband who first initiated me on my first business trip back in 2001. It was Mr. Kane who introduced me to anchovies during that same visit to Baltimore. And it is with the Kane family who my son and I will spend Thanksgiving with, as we have done every year (with one exception) since I started working for Kane/Miller.

I can't imagine working for anyone else after all this time. I have fantastic co-workers who are wonderful individuals and have become family to my son and I.

We are safe this evening and we are grateful for every one's kind thoughts and prayers and can only hope that all of the good karma that's due comes our way this evening.

The Santa Ana winds are supposed to get worse over the next few days. Homes just North and East of my neighborhood have been evacuated, including the home of one of our staff members.

After the Cedar Fires of 2003, the county and city of San Diego, the people, and the emergency crews are better prepared. Evacuations have been prompting people out of their homes with time to spare but the fires are unpredictable, the winds are sporadic and the resources are scarce.

The Witch Fires of 2007 have already been determined to be the worst fires that Southern California has ever seen and I hope and pray that all of those that have been evacuated can recover from this devastating loss once the fires have died down and our lives are meant to return to normal.

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