Wednesday, October 24, 2007

safe and sound... counting our blessings

it has been quite a ride around here the last few days and i want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers headed in our general direction. as you may know - (if not, where have you been?) san diego county and southern california in general have been hit hard with wildfires that have come a little too close for comfort. we are home safe now, thank goodness.
monday morning clint came home just 15 minutes or so after he had left for work and woke me up. i was confused because i thought he had just left and he informed me that our friend aaron had called him to see what we were going to do about the evacuation. we obviously had no idea what was going on and soon found out that we were in an evacuation zone and that the witch fire that had seemed to be no threat at all to us on sunday was heading quickly towards us as the winds blew southwest - straight for us. we had a bit of time to get some things together and assess what we really needed and what had to be left behind. we really felt like we would be coming back home to find everything safe, but we had to be prepared and if nothing else have all that we would need to be away from home for a few days.
my mind quickly went back to the harmony grove fires of 1996 that happened just a week or so before homecoming my senior year of high school. we voluntarily evacuated our house at that time and besides pictures and my baby blanket, my homecoming court dress was the only thing i wanted to take! silly jess. after all, if my house burned down, at least i would look good for homecoming! i guess i've matured a bit because there really wasn't any material possession i could think of that i couldn't live without. especially now with little owen - life changes a lot. all i worried about was having everything we needed to keep him comfortable and safe. i remembered scenes from hurricane katrina of women with little babies that didn't have diapers, clothes, food, etc. and that kept playing through my mind. i can't imagine how heartbreaking it would be to not be able to keep him safe.
clint was a rockstar - super calm, but very productive to get together food, water, blankets, all of our documents, etc. and load up the car to the hilt. we said goodbye to carmel valley and headed to my parent's house about 15 miles north. when we got there, my brother and his wife were also there - they had been evacuated from another part of the county early that morning. come to find out, my sister was also evacuated from her home up in santa clarita from a totally separate fire that came pretty close to them as well. we spent the day glued to the news to see the progression of the fires and to get all the information we could about friends and family that might be affected. later that day my parents house officially became hotel mendioroz when they opened their doors to 4 missionaries and one member of our church who had all been evacuated from ramona. the house was full and buzzing and my sweet mom made sure we were all fed, showered, and entertained as we waited things out.
at one point we were very worried that we would have to evacuate my parent's house as well since the fire seemed to be heading their way as well. their area was under voluntary evacuation, but we decided to stick it out and have a bed to sleep in rather than leave. thankfully, encinitas was in the clear and we didn't have to flee again.
so, here it is, wednesday afternoon. the fires came dangerously close to our little condo- not in our backyard or anything, but about a mile away homes were destroyed. within our stake boundaries i believe there were about 15 or so homes that were burned (i have no idea if any one from our stake actually lost their homes- but their neighbors did!). we got the notice this morning that the winds had shifted and that the evacuation was lifted for carmel valley and we were free to go home. although we were so grateful to have a place to stay and to be with family, it was nice to be able to come home and relax a bit.
i must say that i am proud to live here in san diego - i have been so impressed with the organization, the generosity, and the general sense of "everything will be ok -regardless of what is lost" of the people who have been affected. again, everyone keeps comparing this to katrina and it seems to have been the antithesis of the chaos that accompanied that disaster. i am glad that we have not had that to deal with on top of everything else.
i have been emotional most of the day just from the stress of the situation and the lack of real sleep in the last couple of days. clint and i keep saying we never feared for our lives or anything, it is just a big wake up call to realize the things that are really important and the things that really aren't. we are so grateful that we already have a knowledge of how our lives should be prioritized, and situations such as this keep us in check to make sure our hearts are in the right place.
the fires are far from being contained and my heart goes out to all of the families that are uncertain of their fate, but for now i am grateful that we are home- safe and sound.


Tracie said...

We are so glad that you all are safe.

Holly said...

I am so glad that you are ok! How scary! It's wonderful to come to the realization of what is truly important in our lives. You must be an amazing mother to little Owen. Again...glad you're ok! Hopefully you'll sleep a little better in your own home rather than at Motel Mendioroz:0) Props to your mom!

Madsen Family said...

Jess, Ahhh...I cannot believe this hit so close to home. How scary and stressful. Looks like everything turned out all right for you, for which I am so thankful, but I am still so sad for all those who have lost their homes. We're hoping and praying for the best for all in Southern California. Glad you're back home safe and sound. Get some rest (as if you can with a newborn:)

Swertfeger said...

Good to hear that you're safe and sound. And since this is my first visit to this blog in a long time, this was a chance to also see your new boy. Owen looks adorable. Congratulations.