My family just finished the most surreal time of our lives together. Here’s our story on the 2007 fires in San Diego:
Sunday morning, October 21, we decided to go out to North Coast Calvary Chapel (NCCC) in Carlsbad from our home in 4S Ranch. Usually we go to Green Valley Church in Rancho Bernardo but decided we wanted to head to the coast on Sunday. After church and lunch in Encinitas we headed back down the I-5 to get home. As we passed Cardiff we noticed something we thought was fog but remembered 2003 and knew it was smoke. We soon caught a wiff of the smoke and got home. After hanging out a while I made a Costco run with one of my kids. The smoke kept getting worse but I hadn’t seen any fires and hadn’t seen much on the news. I made a call to a friend of mine to bail on a meeting back at NCCC because things just felt very strange.
We stayed home and watched the Red Sox vs. Indians. The wind kept getting stronger and stronger and we finally saw more information on the news. We went to bed thinking everything was OK in terms of fire danger. The wind was horrible and our backyard junk was rattling all over. I slept downstairs because I’m a light sleeper and watched some of the news as I faded in and faded out. My only fear was our portable basketball hoop might blow over into a window. I finally fell asleep around 5:30 AM but received a couple of calls on my cell phone. I was too tired to get up and ignored the calls.
I did finally wake up around 7:30 and turned on the news. I couldn’t believe my eyes as they had a map on TV that showed mandatory evacuation areas and we were in it. I went and woke up my wife and the kids. I still didn’t see any flames from our house so we began packing. It took over 2 hours to get our act together and then we left with both cars full. We went south on the I-15 and it was very clear and met in Clairemont Mesa to figure out what to do. We decided we didn’t want to keep going south to Qualcomm Stadium as we knew there were fires in the south. We just didn’t like that feeling so I made a phone call to someone from NCCC to see if there was anything available for evecuees. Fortunately there was as we couldn’t go back up the I-15 to my parents house but could go up the I-5 to NCCC. For a while the traffic was horrible, we were hungry and very tired (my wife didn’t sleep much the night before either).
We finally got the NCCC and things were just getting started for evacuees so we checked in then went to Subway for a bite to eat. I ran into one of my neighbors at Ralph’s as they’d gotten a hotel in Carlsbad. More evacuees and volunteers came to NCCC but we really just wanted to crash. A volunteer said there was a man there who had two bedrooms in his house available for us. We were introduced. His name was Stan and I’d remembered him from a men’s group we were in almost five years ago. We followed him back to his house and met his wife Bev. They were just so nice and welcoming. It felt like we got to stay in a 5 star resort as we had two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
During our stay we kept in contact with some other evacuees via cell phone and were blessed to have our families keep in touch with us and pray for us. We drove around a bit during the day to keep the kids active but one of the neat experiences was when we dropped off into a parking lot to make sure quick cell phone calls. We saw a 4S Ranch Little League sticker on an SUV and quickly recognized the vehicle. It was one of my coaches from my Spring 2007 Farm Yankees. We went into the Vons and found their whole family. It was just so good to see them as it was like we hadn’t seen them in years.
We went to the movies today (Wednesday 10/24) as the kids wanted to see something. Afterwords we went to eat lunch and then I got a couple of emails on my pager and my wife got a call from her sister saying that we could go back. We decided to take our time getting home due to traffic so we went to Home Depot for a new hose. We then went back to Stan and Bev’s to pack up and head home.
It was such a great blessing to be able to stay with Stan and Bev. They are a great example of what Christians should be. It was nice to sit with them as we watched the fires on TV, eat meals with them and just get to know them. We ended up staying with them for two nights but had to leave before saying goodbye to Bev. I wanted to make sure we got home before dark.
We got home around 5:00 PM and we realized how fortunate we were. Our house was in great shape with just some blown around stuff in the front and back yards. Even the air wasn’t horrible.
Our prayers are with the victims of these fires; the families of the dead, the injured and the people who’ve lost their homes. Please keep our brothers and sisters from Green Valley Church in prayer. We also pray that the fires would stop. We are grateful to the firefighters who’ve saved thousands of homes, the people protecting our homes from looters, the volunteers all over the county and NCCC and to our new friends; Stan and Bev. This was a tough time but we’ve made it through as a better family with a readjusted set of priorities. “God is good, all the time.”