Here is a letter from my sister describing the devastation and the impact of their loss:
In the early morning of Monday October 9th, I awoke to a room filled with smoke. Jesse had just woken up and was peering through the windows trying to see what all the commotion was about outside, as people were frantically getting into their cars, leaving the neighborhood. I stumbled into the bathroom and instantly started vomiting because I had been inhaling the smoke as I slept and Jesse came up to me informing me that it seemed like people were evacuating. The house was shaking and rumbling as the wind whipped around outside. The house was filling up with more smoke and we realized we needed to get out.
Confused as to what was happening, I got a call from Kayla, my cousin, saying that our Aunt Deedee just evacuated her home and that we needed to get out now. Jesse and I managed to find a flashlight, unknown of the severity of what was going on, got dressed, grabbed a couple things and got in the car. Leaving Coffey Park was a nightmare. It took an hour just to move down the street; everyone was driving like mad men, power was out, and flames were approaching. We drove past the railroad tracks and saw fires starting. Trees had fallen and embers were flying in the red sky. We got to Grandma’s house and met Kayla and Juan.
Jesse and Juan decided to try and go back and get some important things out of the house. They were gone for a couple hours. Later, Jesse described driving through Coffey Park to our home as “going through hell”. The whole neighborhood was on fire and the flames were as tall as the trees that lined the streets. Jesse feared for their safety as they drove the car through flames. Luckily, they got back all right as we all waited up all night anxiously.
The next morning, Jesse and I drove back to Coffey Park to see the home. Everything, I mean, everything was burnt down to the ground. It was an apocalyptic nightmare. A whole neighborhood wiped out, except for smoking trees, burnt up cars, and rubble. I instantly had a panic attack once we saw what was left of our home. We lost everything we had. Every special and meaningful thing, memories, mementos, family heirlooms, irreplaceable, sentimental, special things were burned away in the night. All we had left were the clothes on our backs.
We have been dreaming of going to Thailand since I was a child. And we worked very hard preparing ourselves for our move in December. We had worked so hard, and saved up so much money, which we invested into getting prepared for the trip. Everything got burned. Our passports, backpacking backpacks, cameras and equipment, snorkeling gear, clothes, medicine, life straws, etc. I know these are just “things”, but we worked hard to save and make our dream of moving to Thailand come true. It feels like that dream was taken away from us and instead we were given a nightmare.
We are now at zero. We have been living without power and trying to survive in a city going mad. It looks like a warzone here and we are just trying to make it.
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