Friday, September 24, 2010

Everything but the soundtrack

I know some of you have been waiting for this blog but honestly, I'm not sure how to put into words what we experienced here this past Sunday.

I feel like we spent 24 hours in a movie! That's what I get for stating recently that my life is so boring it wouldn't make a movie.

It began Sunday afternoon as a smell of smoke and a few signs of a possible wildfire on the other side of the mountain where we live. Within a few hours we could see billowy smoke and small flames.

We loaded our car with our dogs, supplies and photographs and watched in wonderment with neighbors as we saw fire trucks and police cars hare up the street.
At this point we really had no concern at all.
We stood around watching with neighbors, woo hoo something exciting on a Sunday afternoon but eventually the smoke was stinging our eyes and we could feel ash landing on us. We had gotten word from a neighbor, who had left her car at a barricade, at the entrance to our neighborhood, that they were evacuating homes and if we left we could not come back in. Suddenly, it wasn't as entertaining.
We received a reverse 911 call, then bull horns declaring the need to evacuate. We were all still quite calm at this point, surely just a precaution. Then a hammer on the door from authorities and we were told to leave. We did so, again calmly without panic and went by the local school which was set up as a make shift shelter. I really just wanted to know if there was a number to call for info and who knew that twitter would be the most accurate way of communicating. Cell phone service stopped working right away due to excess usage which was a quick lesson in emergency preparedness. Walkie talkies are handy.
I had arranged for my older boys to meet us at a safe place as they were in separate vehicles and that's where I headed. As I pulled out of the school lot, I could see the flames quickly coming over the mountain and had the thought that this was not going to be a safe place for long but still calm, I drove away thinking that fire was heading straight for our little cove and feeling confident the firemen would take care of it. I headed down the main road whilst hundreds of cars headed towards the fire, they were lined up and parked and sitting on roofs like it was a drive in movie. I suppose the sight was quite magnificent to someone who didn't actually live here.

(My home sits 3/4 mile between this pond and the fire.)

(My home is directly below the point of this V.)
I sat in a parking lot, waiting like a mother duck for her ducklings to cross the road. My heart was beginning to be troubled but I assured myself that I had no attachment to material things and yes, in case you were wondering, I had ALL my scrapbooks with me.
The flames spread fast and thick and as the sun went down, the orange glow was no longer a beautiful magnificence but the reality that our home and the homes, possibly lives, of our whole neighborhood were in danger.
This was my view.

(My home sits in a cove behind the lowest point of this flame.this picture is taken about 7 miles away)

Curtis had not arrived, I called him only to find he had headed further up into the canyon to help a friend pack he was on his way now and described the smoke so thick and orange that he couldn't see back into our cove. Jordan also had to head towards the fire as his wallet and ID etc was in his car in a parking lot. The roads were barricaded at this point to try and keep a track for emergency crew.
Suddenly not so calm.
Asha was upset, her whole family of soft toys were in that fire and to an eight year old that was devastating but we reassured her they were having a fun party with no grown ups home.
Jordan described this as he sat for 1 hour in a 3 mile procession.
"There is something eerie about sitting in blocked traffic while people walk along side you with back packs and horses on lead reigns (too freaked out to get in a trailer)" Like I said it was like a movie with no soundtrack.

Once my kids arrived we had to make a decision where to go. ( We had so many offers for us and our animals, it was overwhelming).Honestly, we sat there for hours but it felt like minutes. While I had accepted that all I needed was right here with me, it was still sickening to not know what tomorrow would hold or how our life would be from this point. Numb I stared as the fire looked like hot lava crawling down and enormous mountain.

We prayed in faith. Surely if God could part the red sea, he could blow this fire in another direction. I knew he could, I believed it with all my heart and actually I felt peace. Having been evacuated from our summer camp ( not nearly as dramatic) with torrential rain and mudslides, yet seeing the ground solid and dry as we drove, I knew we would be protected.

We have truly been blessed, I have seen miracles, I had my prayers answered. I have gratitude to so many. If I was in need of humbling, then this did it. I cannot imagine what that fire looked like to the personnel working through the night to put it out.

Today, I sit in my home, with green grass and ALL my neighbors survived, although a few homes did not. The community outpouring of gifts and love is also a site to see.
1600 homes evacuated and only 83 people that needed to stay at the shelter. Food from all local businesses and now clothing for those still in "HOT" areas.

As the days have passed I have heard, speak of blame or should've/could've but in my little corner of the woods, we speak of gratitude and miracles because we truly saw the hand of God protect us, our homes and the many many people would worked to put that fire out.

Did I mention my Mum is visiting from England? Welcome to Utah!! This is the most beautiful place on earth. We are a community that know's how to love and serve and care for one another. I feel blessed that I got to witness the power of God and also the nature of man this week, because I'm happy to report that for the most part, it is GOOD.


Julie said...

All I can say is, "wow". Thanks for posting this and for sharing your story.

Marianne said...

Natalie. This is almost unbelievable. I worried about you guys, and am so glad everything worked out OK! This must have been a crazy and amazing experience, and I'm with Julie, thanks so much for posting this.

Love you ALL!!