We were woken up early Monday morning by a call from Sylvia’s niece, Gloria, who told us she was evacuating her house due to a fire in the neighborhood, about 10 miles from us—she was on her way to join us at our house. She lives North of us. We got up and started listening to the radio. Quickly we found out that more than 60 fires were burning in our county due to high winds that had started the afternoon before.
We quickly lost all internet and phone system but luckily we had electricity although the street next to us and before us did not.
So we continued to listen to the news on the radio and within a few hours more than 20 neighborhoods and over 20,000 people had to be evacuated in Santa Rosa. Gloria took over 1 ½ hours to reach us due to the traffic trying to leave. She got on the freeway when the fire jumped from one side to the other (over 8 lanes) and she and others had to turn around on the freeway and headed to another road!
When she got here her phone service was working and so I was able to call my brother and sister-in-law and Major and find out they had left and were sitting in a parking lot south of Santa Rosa in the next city. They told me that my nephew and his family had to evacuate also.
About midday my brother and Major and all came back to their house and they had TV coverage so I went over there and stayed for the afternoon. It was so amazing to see the damage that had been done with over 1500 houses and businesses destroyed by the fire. Soon they had 2 friends who moved in because they had been evacuated so I went back to Sylvia’s.
Sylvia is a Public Health nurse working for the county so she had to work all day in the 2 main Evacuation Centers doing everything from serving food to doing vital signs and triaging patients. She went back again today.
On Monday night Major and I had been invited to meet with several people who have been to Chidamoyo over the years at Dr. Stephanie Huang’s house. She came to Chidamoyo in June this year as an ENT specialist. With great grief we found out she totally lost her house to fire early on Monday morning. Her whole neighborhood is just completely wiped out. She had so little notice to get out and the fire was coming so fast, she couldn’t get even her cellphone out before they were forced to leave. We are thankful that no one was hurt.
We also heard that my nephew’s brother-in-law and his wife completely lost their house. They had a new baby just born 1 week ago. My forwarding agent Sue's daughter and husband lost their whole house and barely had time to get out.
Everyone knows someone that has lost a house and it is so sad for the whole town. Most stores are closed or limited due to people not being able to get to work. There is also heavy smoke in the air and the air quality is at dangerous levels so people are encouraged to stay inside. Many people are wearing N-95 masks if they go out.
We had to evacuate our house tonight at 5:30 p.m. (Tuesday)and it took and hour to go 5 miles! We are spending the night with church friends. My brother had to evacuate again too. Keep praying!
They are expecting high winds today (Wednesday) which will not help in controlling the fires.