The population of Paradise before the fire was around 26,000. Fewer than 4,000 homes have been rebuilt since the fire. Only roughly 450 businesses have come back to Paradise. Before November of 2018 there were over 12,000 homes and 1,500 businesses.
On the night of the fire Pastor Doug, in Magalia, held his phone out the back of the church and took a picture of the approaching flames. Several people from the church tried to evacuate hours before but the traffic backed up to nearly a standstill. Retreating back to the safety of the church they awaited the next morning. I have spoken to Doug many times about that night and I have no words to explain it to you and honestly neither does Doug.
Millions and millions of dollars were poured into the effort of fighting the fire and dealing with the aftermath. It can be said that arguably it is one of the most costly manmade disasters in the world.
While the fire was unfolding in our backyard it was apparent that there were needs to be met. So I write this email to all of you who backstopped High-Hand in our collective effort to make a difference. For me, the one thing that remains above all, is how powerful all of you were during this time. You selflessly gave, volunteered, supported, and time after time, again and again you rose to the occasion.
We asked for blankets and sleeping bags, you provided.
We asked for milk that was going to be distributed to the different non profits in Chico that housed fire victims, you provided.
We needed refrigeration to store food and open up a kitchen to feed the masses. Jim from Produce Express provided a non-operational refrigerated truck and towed it up for Pastor Doug.
Next came a food hall
Tony from Celebrations provided a tent and the warmth of heaters so that home cooked meals could be provided.
We met so many incredible people
A military veteran named Joe
Luke and Colton
And then there was Rene
Your donations provided semi truckloads of hay to Cowboy 911 to feed the animals still alive on the mountain.
You filled this barn up in Oroville, time after time for distribution.
You created a hay and pet food distribution point at Pastor Doug’s church, outside the same door Doug took the picture on that horrifying night. I can assure you your efforts went straight to the heart of the problem.
Cars were purchased
Cars were repaired
Cars were donated
Your kindness allowed us to meet the needs right were people were at.
The Gentleman Behind the Curtain
There was another tragedy unfolding behind all those who lost their lives and were displaced from the fire. My daughter and I identified him as the man behind the curtain. We got to know him. He was offered everything and took nothing. Every time I saw him, I carried my tomato bag. My tomato bag never left my side, I carried it everywhere. The bag held countless gift cards and all the things I needed to hand out to solve different types of needs. I carried it in and out of my truck, from my truck into my house. When at work, I carried it from office to office and place to place. That bag is where I kept your donations, your kindness, and your love. That is what we handed out together.
This gentleman was offered numerous times items from that bag. He never took a single thing. My daughter and I got to know him and we sat with him and talk one day. He evacuated the fire to the shelter. He said that he was trying to get a hold to his medical provider so he could try and schedule a procedure he needed for his heart. He never asked for money or a single tangible item. The only thing he asked for was for a cell phone to make some phone calls to get back on track for his procedure. That is the one item that you were able to provide him. Perhaps out of all the people I met and all the people that you helped, this man made the biggest impact on me. Sadly and unfortunately he was a victim of collateral damage. I am told that he passed away having not been able to connect up for his procedure. I pray and hope that information is wrong. The sad part about the fire is not just about the victims, but the many people who atrophied in the days after the fire. Will you please take a moment to listen to the man behind the curtain.
Miracles Beyond Tragedy
Natures amazing response
I wish you could have witnessed this family’s new beginnings.
It was hard to say goodbye to new found friends at the airport.
I wish you could have met Alysa.
Your kindness provided funds to build 10 tiny homes. This amazing woman took this project on at an abandoned car lot in Oroville.
Welcome Home Luke and Colton
A Powerful Image
Five years later this image has a huge impact on me. My daughter Tara was with me as we came across it on the way up the hill to deliver supplies. We stayed at this home site for almost an hour. The stocking was hung and in an eerie way it struck a cord of peacefulness. We walked around gently in the ashes. You could almost see the life that lived here. It was completely humbling to stand there.
In the coming days do me a favor. As we head into the holiday season think about the people around you. Hug somebody. Care for somebody. Smile at a stranger. Reach out and do something. Make a difference. Put others above yourself. Simply care. Ask yourself a question, do you really need it or does somebody else need it more? Ask yourself a question, what would Love do now?
Your support, love, kindness, and compassion that you showed during the Paradise fire made an impact on more people than you will ever know. We at High-Hand can not thank you enough for being our backstop and going on this journey with us.
With heartwarming gratitude,