This is Rhonda Rees’ story. “On November 8, 2018 I went to bed like I usually do, but on this night, I received a phone call that changed my life. A friend had told me to turn on the news, as they were evacuating people from my area due to a fire that was nearby. To my shock and surprise, I learned that it was making its way toward where I lived, and had just jumped the freeway, which was only four miles away. What made matters worse is that my car was in the repair shop.
I then called a neighbor and asked to get a ride with her. A couple of hours later, we started to receive recorded robocalls, making it official. We were asked us to evacuate, and get to safety.
The Woolsey fire was making its way toward our mobile home park. We left by
3:00 a.m., and I took what I could. This amounted to a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and some important papers. That’s all. What I brought with me was essentially what I could fit on my lap! I honestly thought that I’d return to my home within a few days.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t meant to be. Instead my house along with over 109 others burned to the ground! I lost everything. This included precious family heirlooms, photos, dishes, collectibles, office equipment, supplies and memories.
The good news is that all residents, elderly, children, families and most pets made it out safely. Half of the homes in our park are okay, but some have suffered fire damage, and our lake had dying fish, and later had to be drained, due to future mudslides.
But our community has an unshakeable spirit. I have personally lived in 15 places, staying at friends’ and relatives’ homes, while doing some pet sitting, and I have also been to various hotels. Additionally, I have received a very generous outpouring of love and concern from the public, and from churches, temples, civic groups, and organizations. The American Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army, and the Love Project are some examples. Money, gift cards and grants have been donated, and I am most grateful.
Also, the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN) has set up a Go-Fund Me page to help out with my public relations business. I have made some wonderful new business contacts, and special friends along the way.
It’s very important to remember that when you die, you can’t take stuff with you. One interesting observation is that when I went back to the land where my house once stood, the garden has been coming back. I have seen beautiful rose bushes emerge along with some lovely flowers. This is a great reminder to “bloom where you are planted.” Just like a phoenix rising back from the ashes, so too does life.
Finally, I want to mention that I’ve found a new place. I have bought another property, and I’m currently waiting for my new home to be ready to move in any day now. I’m really looking forward to all the possibilities that will lie ahead.”