BUTTE FIRE RECOVERY CENTER

DSC06718 (Copy)Yesterday, I drove to Mountain Ranch to the park on Whiskey Slide Road where Fema and the Red Cross have set up a fire victim recovery center. Mountain Ranch Rd. was filled with traffic with 3 major stops for road crews re-establishing power lines to the area; removing dead debris from the road, and cutting dead roadside trees with potential to fall on the road.  Mountain Ranch Rd winds treacherously through the canyon without much shoulder space to stop.  At each forced stop, I took a picture from my window. It always baffles me that one tree still has green leaves while the next one is almost completely brown and scorched.

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Somehow, when a fire goes through an area, I’m not alone in thinking that everything is burned down to the ground.  I’ve seen devastation like that. There is plenty of ash, and plenty of dead trees to come from my very limited view.

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In the foreground on the left is a small blackened pine. Pine trees will die in a fire like this, but many of the oak trees, if given a chance, will survive. I don’t understand fire science and what makes this a hot spot where big trees burned and other areas are islands of green. Recovery is better when trees, are left standing, and even some dead ones left on the ground to hold water and gather clumps of washed dirt against them to aid in regrowth and insect activity.

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At the park, I took this picture of mass, organized chaos when I first arrived. Then, it was a matter of slowly making my way around the park to drop off the carload of items I brought. Soap and shampoo one place. Black garbage bags another. Charcoal, boots, medications, paper plates, toilet paper, jackets, toys, pants, shirts, books, belts, scarves…

Before I returned to the site above the four pairs of boots I had left were already gone. One guy told me, “Oh, thank you. I have such trouble finding size 13.”

They aren’t accepting appliances or furniture until people have power and shelter to put it in.  Many have found places to stay. Some are camping on their property or are in Fema trailers. 545 houses burned.  State Farm has set up a Disaster Recovery trailer in San Andreas where people go to file their claims.

I worked hard; never getting a chance to take more pictures. I met a couple from Manteca and another from Modesto who came to help. The community of volunteers from Mountain Ranch was fantastic, practical and upbeat.  Then, late in the day, about 3:00, word came that rain was expected. Then it was a matter of getting tarps under all boxes of sorted clothing so wet couldn’t seep into the boxes. And covering them from the top with rolls of Visqueen plastic. I returned home late in the  day completely exhausted. Today, I’ll work on getting my own stuff back on shelves, that my kids removed for me. Sunday, my oldest son will bring back a van load of genealogy, family photos and records from his garage in Valley Springs.

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