I apologize for not being able to respond individually to all of you who have called and emailed. Please know that each of you holds a special place in my heart. I am so grateful for your love, support and concern. I tried posting updates on Facebook, but the character limitation is just too restrictive. You know how verbose I can be! So, I thought I'd try using a blog for updates.
As many of you know, we first learned our house was gone by seeing it on a Denver TV station. It was also the front page picture in the Boulder newspaper on Tuesday. For those of you outside Boulder, if you've seen a picture of a slurry bomber and a house on fire, it was probably our house. We've heard from others that the national news media have been showing it. Not exactly the claim to fame I would have wanted.
On Monday night we stayed with our dear friends, Connie, Gary and Kyle. We then moved to the Residence Inn in Boulder. Almost all of yesterday (Wednesday) was spent looking for a rental house. It was a bizarre experience, racing around town to look at places as agents told us the rental possibilities were disappearing. We ran into some of our neighbors looking at the same houses. One family was not at home when the fire happened and lost almost all of the photos of their two little girls. Despite the race to find a place, we tried to stay focused that this wasn't a competition and everyone would find something that worked.
Erin was able to join us after school, and we found a place that she felt good about. It's in Dakota Ridge, facing the open space. Hopefully the insurance company will accept it and we'll be able to move in soon. Today (Thursday) will be spent meeting with our insurance person and meeting with a possible contractor about rebuilding. We haven't decided yet if we will rebuild, but we've been told to get started on the process.
Last night we attended a community meeting for those affected by the fire. There were hundreds of people in attendance. Joe Pelle, the sheriff, gave an excellent update on what was happening. Some of the evacuated families will be able to return to their homes today. However, Sunshine Canyon and a couple of others are still closed for the foreseeable future. Of the 20 mile perimeter of the fire, only 2 miles are under control. The sheriff also warned that the people who return will need to be prepared to leave again on short notice. We had rain on Wednesday, but the weather for today is supposed to be dry and windy which could send the fire in new directions.
The most important part of the evening was reconnecting with our neighbors. Sunshine Canyon is like a small town in the way that people know and support each other. Last night there were tears and hugs, but also a bit of joy and laughter. Some are still dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing if their house survived. One family received a picture taken just a couple of hours before showing their house still standing. Those whose houses are still there are struggling with the guilt that survivors feel. Many of us who know our houses are gone looked aged and worn. I'm not looking in the mirror any time soon.
Many, many people have asked how they can help. Truthfully at this point, there isn't much we need at the basic level of food and shelter. For now, our insurance company is taking care of us. If you want to do something, I would recommend either contributing to those less fortunate than us who didn't have insurance or to the Sunshine Fire Department. For general donations, you can call 211 in the Boulder area (866-760-6489 outside Boulder) or go to www.unitedwayfoothills.org (click on focus area Fourmile Canyon Fire). I'm not sure how to donate directly to the Sunshine Fire Department, but there may be something on their website. Another option would be to contribute to the Pakistan aid efforts. I know it's trite, but we really do still have so much more than many people, so we're trying to stay focused on that perspective, while also knowing that we have to go through the grieving process.
While we're ok for now, I've been thinking of things that would comfort each of us as we go forward. Many of these are things that require time more than money, things that need to be created, researched, hunted down. Here are some examples:
- Erin had an aloe vera plant in a beautiful blue pot in her bathroom. While I could go buy another one, it's something I probably won't have time to do for awhile.
- All 3 of us had black belts from Tae Kwon Do. Erin and I saved ours, but I didn't know where Alan's was and so it was lost. I don't know how much it really means to him, but it might be nice if someone could contact Tran's and see if it's possible for us to replace it if he wants to.
- I lost all my recipes. While I can go buy new books, there are some favorite recipes that were given to me by some of you. Connie, I'm thinking veggie chili and Becky's salad, for instance. Getting copies of those recipes would be comforting for me.
We obviously don't need hundreds of aloe vera plants, so there needs to be some coordination. The entrepreneur in me instantly thinks "there should be an app for that!" Some kind of wish list app where people who have suffered some loss could post the little things that would help them once they are past Maslow's first level of food and shelter. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be creating that app anytime soon, but maybe there's something that exists that could be used.
The other thing we'll need in the future is information. For example, Vic, I'd love to talk to you about how to deal with the insurance company since I know you have recent experience. Another thing might be how to help the college admissions people understand what Erin is going through and how this might affect her app. She has to take the ACT on Saturday--she's been wonderfully strong and resilient through all of this, but staying focused for 4 hours to take a test might push that limit.
Finally, there's also the long term support. I know I've often wanted to help someone immediately but then I get back into life and forget that the person is still grieving weeks, months, years later. So, maybe just put on your calendar or into reQall (sorry I still have to do the plug) a reminder to contact Alan, Erin or myself in 3 weeks or 2 months or whenever.
One last thing. Last night after the rain there was a gorgeous full rainbow to the east of Boulder. We took it as a sign of hope.