Five days later the fire still burns. Progress has been made, but the fire still burns.
Yesterday the reports began to be posted that gave me hope that I was one of the lucky ones. The officials were being very cautious about specifics, but they did confirm that the western part of the subdivision had mostly escaped the ravenous flames. This morning a series of aerial photos allowed us to pinpoint my neighborhood and see for ourselves that there was no sign of fire damage. Late today, the barricades were moved further into the subdivision and some residents were allowed to re-enter. My street was included in the re-entry area.
After five days, I allowed myself to take a deep breath and relax just a tiny, tiny bit. David and I will drive down in the morning and check on my house.
I read a Facebook post this evening from a lady who had discovered that not only did she still have a house, she actually had power and water. Her family is preparing to spend their first night back - and she's scared. Scared because the fire still rages a short distance away and a shift in the weather could call for them to evacuate again.
It is hard to describe the conflicting emotions - joy that you have not lost your possessions and your home; despair at the horrible losses that have been suffered by your neighbors a few miles away; dread that the danger has not been totally removed; fear that you will never ever feel safe again.
I feel like I've been kicked in the gut. The disaster at the top of the news hour is personal this time. Thank God for the firefighters. Thank God for the law officers and the emergency management team and the volunteers who worked to shelter the evacuees who did not have anywhere else they could ride out the storm. Thank God for the folks who took along their neighbor's dogs who were at home alone and the animal rescue folks who removed the animals at the local shelter to a safe location. Thank God for the friends and relatives who have offered shelter and support and have prayed unceasingly for the deliverance of this community from the jaws of Hell.
May we all pull out of this nightmare soon.