The night the fire roared towards Magalia, the First Baptist Church stood in its way. I cannot imagine what Hell looks like, but from outside the front door of the church Pastor Doug and thirty others stared at Hell.
Believe it or not, this is the church the next morning as the fire burnt and destroyed everything around them. You have to say that this is a miracle. Everything around this church is gone.
I had gotten a call last Monday from a man who needed gas to take supplies into Sterling City. Your donations provided the gas he needed and through him I made contact with Pastor Doug. Pastor Doug had explained that they were not getting any services and that there were people starving. He explained that he was tired of the bureaucracy and frustrated, but with laughter in his voice, said, “I’m learning how to cook rice fourteen ways.”
We talked on the phone throughout the week about his needs. He needed food. He explained that there were people up there who had stood their ground and were camping in their houses instead of going to the shelters. Looters have been a concern. Personally, I’d rather be in a cold house without power than the Walmart parking lot in a tent.
As I thought this through I asked him about refrigeration. I told him we could send food, but if we can’t refrigerate it what’s the point? I made some phone calls and started the wheels in motion. I and my daughter Tara drove up the back way to Magalia on Sunday and we sat with Pastor Doug in his sanctuary. It was a quick conversation about immediate needs. I had been thinking about the logistics about getting food to Magalia all week long – refrigeration, dairy, eggs, produce and meat.
Today a refrigeration truck was towed to the church.
In the back of the truck was the start of our food supply chain.
Tomorrow your donations will be delivering fresh meat and Cambros. Cambros are a container used for storing hot liquids. They are limited up there. Before we could send food we had to create a way to keep it refrigerated and fresh.
I have not done this much in our emails, but I want to personally thank Jim and the entire Produce Express family. The Produce Express family made a direct cash donation to the work with the Camp Fire victims. When I called Jim to pick his brain about refrigeration, the next day he came up with a solution. He towed up the truck and sent a crew to make sure the refrigeration was running properly.
Jim, you have helped do something for the people of Magalia that the agencies and government could not recognize and could not act fast enough. Every day counts. People are suffering.
Last week a conversation was started with the Pastor in Magalia. Today a refrigerator truck is there and the food is starting to flow in. Over the next two to three days, I will work on organizing the supply chain to get the people of Magalia through the winter. Your donations are going directly to this cause.
When I talked to Pastor Doug on the phone I could hear and worry and uncertainty in his voice. I had to go see it with my own eyes. It’s no joke up there. They feel forgotten.
We’ve adopted families and people. Do you want to adopt a town with me?
With the food starting to flow, we are now trying to acquire other needs for the residents there. I am tasked with acquiring 500 pairs of leather work gloves and work boots. Women’s sizes 6-8 and Men’s sizes 9-12.
Food, work gloves and work boots to start the long process of sifting through their burnt homes.
In the coming days we will determine other needs and fulfill them. Your gift cards have already been distributed to them for gas and other individual needs.
This is Rebecca in the shelter. I have spent time at all the shelters as they opened and closed. The last shelter still open is in Chico. Your donations have helped remove people from tent area. Tara and I walked the tent area last night and there are no more children remaining.
In the Women’s dorm, we are working with getting three ladies out of the shelter. A student from Butte College, a lady that had a job interview today and an elderly lady needing help to find a car. She has the money for the car, but because she’s at the shelter it’s difficult to make such a transaction.
In the medical area, we got Joe what he needed to get his cell phone reactivated. The free phone he was given at the shelter expired today and without a phone he was afraid he would lose contact with the doctors that will be doing surgery on him in two weeks.
My trip into the shelter – here’s Joe passing time on the guitar.
In the family shelter, a young mother, three months pregnant, her five year old and one year old have been removed and relocated to a hotel in Rocklin. We are working on connecting her to the services she needs and getting her life rebooted.
We are helping an elderly couple with their vehicle registration and the repair of their vehicle she wrecked while driving her and and her husband to safety.
Last night we came across a lady crying. I woke her. We spoke to her. She called me today from the new cell phone she has. Thanks to your donations, she can now make the calls necessary to start the process of rebuilding. I’ve put her in contact with a lady up there who might be able to give her temporary housing.
We are working with a family of seven. They are in the shelter. They are awaiting word on their house in Magalia and waiting for a FEMA appointment. They’ve been waiting in the shelter for almost two weeks waiting for a FEMA inspector who had visited their house to get back to them. It turns out that it’s possible that it was not a FEMA inspector, but a looter. Their house survived the fire. They now have to wait for another FEMA inspector to schedule another time to meet them at their home. I will be traveling to that house on Saturday to take a peek and figure out how to get them back in.
When FEMA finally gets there they will make a list of things they need to fix prior to them getting occupancy. It’s usually smoke damage, moldy furniture, and bad carpet. Your donations are going to help with this process. Why don’t we go fix their house? It’s not going to take much. Just effort and love.
There are so many others you have helped thanks to your donations. I’m continuing to identify families in the fringe areas and will pass those stories along in emails to come.
This is Rebecca at High-Hand. Your donations have possibly changed her outlook in life. As we start to work with her and her mom we can only hope that the kids will grow up never knowing what happened.
I will continue to keep an eye on the shelter. There are 14 individuals who I’m working directly with to help them over the Everest they face.
While I keep my eye on the shelters and the families in Chico, along with some of the families locally that your donations are helping, our energy will be focused on the back towns of Magalia and Sterling City.
People are combing through their houses. On my way up on Sunday, we stopped many times to distribute your donations. When the fire came through, people fled in all directions. There are people beyond Chico, living in the fire area on the back side. Your contributions are going directly to them now.
With all the attention going to Chico, your donations have been put to work promptly and precisely.
I will ask you again. Would you like to adopt a town?
As we drove up I had to stop and take this picture. As sad as this is, it is also an image of the strength of the human spirit.
I would like to talk about the nursery and the things we do here at High-Hand, but there’s work to be done for our neighbors and the time will come for the nursery to be spoken about again.
On behalf of the staff at High-Hand, we can’t thank you enough for your support. Your donations are making an impact and I will continue to use them wisely.
How can you help out those impacted by the Camp Fire?
You have helped out so much! You have helped out so much! Here is what’s needed – Visa Gift Cards and cash. Gift cards and cash can be delivered directly to the nursery or sent to us by mail. Our address is:
P.O. Box 2280
Loomis, CA 95650
You can also call us and give us a credit card over the phone. Our number is 916-652-2065. We will turn all checks and credit card transactions into cash.