We left New Orleans because my husband did not ever want to fix a flooded house again in his life.
Now we find ourselves surrounded by another disaster, one even bigger than the breaking of the levees: an inferno consuming much of Southern California. When I look at the newspaper’s map of the fires, I see that the areas north, west, and south of our town are burning.
We have been spared. But the beautiful stark hills we see from every window of our house have taken on an ominous aspect. Dotted with dead brush, they are ripe for burning. The Santa Ana winds roared through here Sunday and Monday, ripping all the shingles off our garden shed and tearing shrubs out of the ground. They left our hills untouched.
We smell the smoke and see the gray haze. I scan the hills periodically for signs of flames.
Even living through the Katrina experience, I never could get my mind around the whole of it. Too many people were affected, too many square miles. These fires are even harder to grasp. One million refugees? Can it be true? What will happen to them?
I do know that these people are worse off than we Katrina refugees were. Most flooded houses could be repaired, and in most cases second floors and their contents were spared. This week’s fire victims have lost nearly everything. Even if the firefighters put out a fire in time to save a house, the water from the hoses likely destroyed everything inside.
At times like this, I wish I were religious so I could yell at God.
fire photo copyright Ernest von Rosen, www.amgmedia.com
other photos copyright 2007 Shauna S. Roberts