I was going to do an email last week. After all that we have been through together in helping the Camp Fire folks, I wanted to do a positive, uplifting email with progress, new beginnings and the gratification that all this is making a difference.

I know it is making a difference because I get to see and deal with it daily. Whether I’m up there or in my office, every day progress is being made. But last week I was sidelined by a phone call and needed time to process it.

I’d received a call from one of the people we were helping inside the shelter. I was told that one of the ladies who we were helping had passed away.  This lady was perfectly healthy when I met her. We’d given her money for day to day expenses and had a solution for a place for her to go. She had gotten sick and had a cold. This I knew. But, in the short time that I had not seen her, she was admitted to a hospital and passed away. This fire continues to claim victims. As far as Red Cross is concerned, I have seen good and bad and, to be honest, without wading into the debate of good or bad, I just think that if you take it on you own it. If you break it, you’re responsible for fixing it.  I don’t know what else to say. 

The Red Cross shelter is closing at the end of the month. They are asking 120 trailers to leave after spending a ton of money making a new paved area for them. They’ll be closing down the indoor shelters as well. Couldn’t they wait until Spring before they shoved the people onto the streets?

There was a brief time in my life when I slept under the stars myself. I can tell you from experience this is not the time to do it. 

At the shelter, Steve is walking trailer by trailer and assessing individual needs. I will be there to help on an as needed basis to facilitate means to help people move along to better destinations. 

In the shelter I am still working with people to find solutions. 

– Chico Shelter Luke and Colton. We’re building a mini house for them. Since a trailer has not come through that would be suited for them, we have started construction on a 20′ mini house.

Luke and Colton need to stay in Chico because that’s where doctors and Colton’s special needs school are located. You and I have funded his mini house build. Would anybody like to adopt them once the house is completed? We will be putting forth a list of things needed – mattresses, linens, etc. Let me know.

– Chico Shelter Joe surgery. If you remember Joe from the early days, we’ve been helping him along with various needs. Here’s an update. His surgery has been postponed. The doctor quit the hospital. His primary physician is looking for a new surgeon. I talked to Joe today. As life goes, things come from different directions. Joe has found a new partner in the shelter and they are going to combine forces when they can and live together. Joe’s plan when the shelter closed was to use a used sleeping bag and rain boots and go out on the streets. This isn’t going to happen. Not on my watch. We are going to build him a mini house. His job is to find a place to put it. My job is to either find a trailer or put him in a mini house. Either way, we’re going to start the build.

Would anybody like to adopt Joe, his partner and a mini house? Let me know.

– Magalia Propane People, James and Christine. I met them in Magalia. They were able to move back home.Their money has gone towards getting their house in order. I was talking to somebody in the food tent and noticed them standing in the corner. It’s not hard to spot people’s needs. It was very easy to tell that they were looking for help.  Looking for someone to ask. I talked to them and asked them what their worry was. They told me they were back home and cleaning up to the best of their ability. Their 250 gallon propane tank empty and no heat. So simple. We put the propane on the church’s account and paid the bill. It will be enough to get through winter and cook with. Gift cards for groceries and some gas cards as well. It will be a long winter for Christine and James. They are trying to save up money to get her brother back home. His ashes are in Chico. He didn’t make it off the hill the night of the fire. 

– Chico Tattoo Gloria and Ralph. Finally on their way to Arizona. It’s been a long couple months, but they headed home.

As I’ve learned throughout this process everything is a moving target and some things fight until the very end. The plan was to fly them from Sacramento to Vegas and have Mom pick them up. Mom got sick. She’s in her upper eighties, but still drives. My kind of woman. Not being able to change the flight, we had to put them over in a hotel in Vegas for the night. The next day Mom was going to get them. That didn’t work out. Mom was too sick to drive. So, $178 later, an Uber from Vegas to Lake Havasu and they’re home.  Thank you for participating with me. Gloria and Ralph have said “thank you” many times. From the shelter to home where they will take care of their mother, a new life begins.

– Chico Jason Stacy Wife in LA. We got her car fixed so she could drive back north so she could be with the family. Jason stayed behind and slept on a friend’s couch. Stacy and the kids went on to her parents house in LA. Jason was able to stay behind and find a place. We assisted in basic living expenses until they were able to move in. A Good Year Service Center fixed her car for the trip back home. We have paid part of those repairs. Jason has a job now and can take it from here. 

– Chico Hold Your Horses. They are a group out of the Bay Area who continue to make food runs to the animals. I’ve given them access to some of our feed supplies. They are doing a very good job of keeping a handle on that and have worked relentlessly throughout. 

– Chico Idaho Family. They made it to Idaho.

The husband started work and the kids are in school. She is trying to get a small home based business up and running. They’ve reached out and said “thank you”. She said, “Sometimes us fire survivors forget to check in with the helpers. We’re all healthy and living. Thank you.”

– Chico Jared and Jenny Paradise Ford Auto. Your donations repaired Jared’s Ford. It was left behind and took quite a beating from the fire. He’s now back to work thanks to your donations. 

I’m working with several people in FEMA trailers. They don’t own these trailers. They can stay there for 18 months. Here’s the frustrating part. I feel like the deck was stacked against them from the very beginning. When you apply for the trailer, you get a FEMA number. That means your 18 months start from that application date. If it took FEMA 3 months to get you into a trailer, you now have 15 months left.  The other kicker is you have to re-certify every month to remain in the trailer. I’m working with several people in FEMA trailers and casting our eyes out into the future as a new housing situation could unfold again for those in FEMA trailers. Frustrating, isn’t it? You survived a fire, three months in the shelter, you have 15 months remaining in your FEMA trailer and have to re-certify with FEMA every month to remain. Can’t the pressure cease for a bit so their feet can be firmly planted on the ground?

-Water. Water is an issue. I’m a bit frustrated as to why private citizens have to fund water to people in the fire area. The Del Oro Water District in Magalia has said the water is safe. However, if not sure, boil it. Not exactly a vote of confidence in your water. Paradise water has various chemicals that do not cook out by boiling. The quantity of water needed in Paradise, Magalia and Konkow is staggering. In Paradise you can get a case of water per day with identification as long as their supplies last. And then what, I ask? The CEO of Del Oro water tried to motivate a Congressman to help. The Congressman said there is nothing he could do publicly. Seriously? That’s the best a Congressman can do for people who have to stand in a water line hoping to get their ration “while supplies last”?

What’s it take to move water into the area? We’ve moved several truckloads. But after reading these emails Ozark Trucking called. I wanted to thank Ozark Trucking, Produce Express and Teichert. Ozark delivered 19 pallets of water to be offloaded at Produce Express. Produce Express was kind enough to offload, store and reload onto a Teichert truck.

Teichert delivered this truck load of donated water to Pastor Doug. This is an example of people coming together in a very non-selfish way and just getting it done. I thank all three of you for facilitating this. Congressman, surely you’re good for a couple truck loads of water? 

As for me, it’s shelter, tiny houses, feeding in Magalia, and continuing to assist families we are currently helping. We, you and I, took them on and we will see them to completion.

It’s not very often that I giggle when I’m working on fire relief projects. This was a work sheet I did for calculating the best price on the water – gallon jugs versus bottles. I only giggled because this is what my mind looks like inside. Believe it or not, there is a flow to all of this. It just goes in a lot of directions at once. 

A Camp Fire and Wildlife Care Association benefit. Join us for an inspiring evening of insight into some of the greatest birds that fly. We will have pictures posted that evening of our work with the Camp Fire. These pictures have not been published and you’ll be able to see some of the faces of people you’ve helped. Join us for an enchanting evening. All proceeds will go towards these two causes.

Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

From the very beginning at the WalMart parking lot standing in the cloud of smoke, it was hard to see a path. Leapfrogging from issue to issue was the only path at the time. I fretted about winter because I knew it would only make matters worse and in some cases it has. The shelter is closing at the end of the month. The timing couldn’t be worse. However, we, you and I, will continue to push person by person by person.

Through success and disappointment. Through tragedy and new beginnings, all of you supporting this work should feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. The heavy lifting doesn’t happen without you. We have gone from giving out $50 bills to feeding a town and building houses.

Like High-Hand, I know that the flowers will come out again. People in the middle of this crisis may not see that, but your donations are continuing to pull this into focus.

Thank you so much. 

Scott

How can you help out those impacted by the Camp Fire?

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:

Attn: Nichole
High-Hand Nursery
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.

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