Hello, my name is Cornelius Uliano, a dear friend of Eric & Kayte's.
This is a fundraiser to help Eric & Kayte get back on their feet again—to support their journey of rebuilding their life and their home.
These are two of the most wonderful people we know. They are not just friends, but family.
On the early morning of October 9th the citizens of Santa Rosa, California were awakened by a ferocious wildfire at their doorstep. It came without warning, forcing many into a harrowing escape from their home with nothing but the clothes on their back, their loved ones by their side, and their furry companions at their feet. There were many who were not so lucky. As the flames quickly enveloped their neighborhoods, it was too late for them to escape. Many more are displaced and missing.
Our dear friends, Eric & Kayte Reinecke, were among the many who had to flee their home in the early morning hours of that fateful day. They are so fortunate to have escaped with their lives—but as the hours passed, and the smoke began to settle, they learned the flames had taken the place they called home. All of their possessions… lost.
The flames have taken their keepsakes and many family heirlooms that are irreplaceable. But it hasn’t taken their love for one another, their love of life, and the spirit to start again.
Any amount can help during this difficult time.
This is their story of escape:
It was one o’clock in the morning when we woke up to a rumbling that didn’t feel quite right. As we tried to understand what was happening, it was apparent the rumbling was becoming louder and louder.
We went into the living room and looked out the window. What was normally a view of the nearby redwood trees and the city lights of downtown Santa Rosa was now a trail of fire and orange smoke racing up our mountain, towards the house. We raced to the front of the house and opened the door to see our neighbors packing their cars, shouting and sounding their horns to warn others in the nearby houses.
By the time it became clear to us the severity of the situation, we had only minutes to gather our cats, throw on some clothes, and escape the house. As we jumped into the car and joined the procession of cars fleeing the down the mountain, we remembered our elderly neighbor. We slammed on the breaks and frantically raced back up the hill to her house. We banged on her windows and her door, screaming and shouting for her. As we tried desperately to call for her, we could feel the air begin to change—the fire breathing. The clouds of smoke had grown and made it difficult to see and breathe. We had to leave; only with the comfort of knowing that the car she had always parked in her driveway was gone.
Besides a call from a few of our family members as we were packing the car, we never received any alerts to evacuate. We never could have imagined what was coming for us in the night.
We headed for West County and began the excruciating task of locating all of our loved ones and waiting for news. By 5:00pm we couldn't sit and wait any longer. We had to know the fate of our home. We hopped into the car and drove across town—sneaking by roadblocks and passing by downed power lines and smoldering homes.
As we ascended the mountain and rounded the corner, it was then we finally laid eyes on what was left of our beloved home, the home Erwin Reinecke built in 1964 with his son.
A chimney, ash, and the smoking skeletons of cars were all that remained. The house that had been home base for the California Reinecke’s was nothing but ash and mangled metal.
It was a process of manic relief at finally knowing what had happened, followed by the real process of acceptance and grief about what we've lost.
While painful, in the end we lost possessions, artifacts from three generations of family history, and the place where we've always felt pure peace and joy. We didn't lose our memories or friends who made that place so sacred and special to us.
Moment to moment we remember things that were there for the best times in our lives. In the rubble is my dad's 1963 Ford Falcon that I first drove with my learner's permit and later drove Kayte, who had become my wife, to our wedding reception. Also somewhere in the mass is the first gift she gave me, a hand-made Death Star disco ball, and the first gift I gave her, a lightsaber.
In the end, I still remember those things. I do miss the things I don't remember, like my grandfather's correspondence home during the war and the family home movies. But as time moves on, we can create new memories. And while our family story now includes a very painful event, it's not a story about the loss of a loved one but rather the story of highlighting the things we have.
You have all supported us so much through this and we have never had to worry about where we'd stay, what we'd eat, or if we might lose our jobs while we work through this difficult time. And in that we feel so much comfort everyday.
Immediately following the event, we focused on the irreplaceable things we lost. Now that we move forward, we're confronted with restoring the basic replaceable things. All donations will be used to buy clothes, home furnishings, pet supplies, and all the other things you take for granted until they're suddenly gone.
This is the beginning of our new journey, and we’re asking for you to help us in this first step on the road back to normality.
Thank you so very much for your continued love and support.
Eric & Kayte Reinecke
DonationsSee top donations
- Kelly Wong
- Andrea and Justin Sadrakula
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