My sister, Jill (Jerzyk Bromund) Chiappe (or Jill Noelle if you only see her on fb), and her family were evacuated Monday night from Hawaiian Village (the building you see in the photo) which was destroyed as part of the Ventura County fire. Her family is ok but they have lost everything including a car. If you’re able to help with even a small contribution while they’re figuring out what they need it would be appreciated. All donations will go directly to Jill and her family to help them replace items the need immediately and those not covered by insurance. They have had a total loss other than what they evacuated with. I can't imagine having to replace everything I own and what that cost might be. Every little bit helps.
Jill has been set as the beneficiary and has direct access to the funds you're providing. Go fund me is most helpful right now because she has access to her accounts but no mail box to receive gift cards and the like.
**update: spoke to Jill today. They think insurance is going to cover about half of what it's going to replace their items. Goal has been updated to reflect this need.
**update 12/8/17: Text of Jill's fb update with the whole story below. Wouldn't show on the update page.
Life has been really REAL lately. Geesh. Thanks for everyone who has checked in and been so kind and caring. There are so many good people in the world, apparently especially my friend group. I've never been prouder to call all of you my friends.
I thought I would share a few details of what occurred as I notice it seems to help people to have an understanding of what happened. There is probably nothing worse than having an upsetting event occur and then also having no information. So I'll fill in the gaps along with some tips for anyone who lives in an area where wildfire is a possibility. Because I learned a lot from this experience and if someone else can be spared a little heartache by what I learned then I'm glad to have said it.
So here is the rough sequence of events from start to now (which is by no means the end).
About 10:30 pm on Monday night I was taking a bath. The power went out so I got out of the bath. I went to bed and checked my Facebook as my usual routine. (LESSON 1: Social media is a fairly good source of real time information. ) My friend Timo had just posted that a fire was burning in Santa Paula which is about 20 min from me. I wasn't overly concerned at that point. The usual for us is fires to the east of us because we are close enough to the ocean that it's rarely anywhere near our home.
Power was still out and the wind was very intense so it was rattling our sliding glass doors to our balcony. Our home faced south toward the ocean and we can see from our balcony all the way from Oxnard up to almost Carpinteria (if you know California geography), plus certainly all of Ventura. All was pitch black except for some businesses and homes that obviously had emergency generator power.
I sat in bed checking Facebook for a bit longer, until about 11:20. Still no power, still crazy windy. I was seeing posts from various people about the fire moving possibly toward the east side of Ventura (we were on the West Side). Hmmm. I just felt uneasy. (LESSON 2: Trust your instincts.)
I got up and went to the back of our place that faced the mountains (north) and looked outside. This is where stuff got real. I could see flames quite clearly to my right AND my left. Mental calculations. Would firefighters be able to stop blazes coming both directions toward us with 50 mph gusting winds? Hmmm. I decided to go downstairs and out to check the conditions. Ash raining from sky. Flames coming rapidly closer. Neighborhood stirring. A woman drove up and asked if I knew her 94-year-old grandmother who was my neighbor. (I didn't.) She ran to knock on the door. The panic was palpable.
It was now about 11:45. I went back in and woke my husband and showed him the view out the back window. I told him we needed to get out. We started grabbing stuff. I told him to pull the car up near the door. He did. The amount of traffic and panic was increasing outside. Cars were leaving our street rapidly now. (LESSON 3: I learned from watching people who survived the Santa Rosa fires that it's not about whether your home is in danger--it's about whether your escape route is passable. So better safe than sorry on leaving early while there is still an escape route.) We had about 5 min (we felt, just by our own assessment of the distance to the flames and the raining ash) to grab some important items.
I'll leave out some of the details about what we grabbed. Suffice it to say that you never think about having to evacuate in the dark. (LESSON 4: If you live in a potential wildfire area, just go ahead and plan out what you would take. Make it very efficient and maybe even practice grabbing the important stuff and time yourself. Why not? You don't know how much time you will have and if you have practiced what to grab you won't have to think. Thinking is not a strong suit when you are rushed.)
Luckily as we left, the escape route (the one street that led down off of our hillside) was open and clear. We checked on a few neighbors by phone as we were leaving. All were ok and also evacuating.
We drove rapidly down the 101 going south and realized there was no power for miles. So it wasn't likely we could get a hotel as no one would have power to check us in. Perhaps they would have, I just know I thought about that at the time.
As we got about 15 min down the road, my neighbor called and said one of our other neighbors was filming and our roof was on fire. Sinking feeling in the stomach. I asked if any firefighters were on the scene. No. It kicked up too fast. They were battling in other places. (LESSON 5: California firefighters are awesome and they always try to save life and property. But they can't be everywhere all the time and this fire went too many directions too fast.)
About 5 min after that a friend called and offered us to stay with her. We took her up on the offer. Love you, Katie. ❤ (LESSON 6: People are so kind and good. Especially in tough circumstances. And especially my friends who continue to impress me, day after day.)
About 30 min later our home was engulfed in flames and by 4 am had collapsed down the hillside in a pile of embers. Dramatic, crazy. What the heck. (LESSON 7: Expect the unexpected.) The reality of that moment has probably only about 50% set in.
We are now still with my friend, slowly rebuilding things but mostly living day to day for a bit. The fires are still burning so it's early days. (LESSON 8: What it feels like to not have scissors or nail clippers or . . . a pen. Crazy. LESSON 9: Gotta have a sense of humor or you won't make it. I've heard some of the best fire jokes ever in the last few days. Some people approach it cautiously because they aren't sure if I'm in the mood. But I'm in the mood. Because it's funny. I always like a good laugh. My current favorite funny moment was being in Target buying some crazy basic stuff and I turned to my friend and said, "You know that moment when you are at the grocery store and you wonder if you should buy something because you might have it at home but you can't remember? Yeah, I don't have that problem." We both had a good chuckle. I got 99 problems but a bed ain't one.)
Final lesson for this saga, LESSON 10, wow. my friends. Such good people. My family. Such good people. I'm in awe of all the people reaching out to help us. And we really appreciate it. We really truly do. Even just hearing from you makes us feel cared for. We have each other, no one was injured or killed, and we are ready to start anew. Maybe this will be the best part of our lives, the chapter yet to come.
That's all for today. Thanks for listening. I think it helps me to say it. I hope it helps some of you to read it. And if anyone has a Roland Emmerich-type mind and wants to see pictures of my burnt-out car, pm me. My brother made me laugh when he saw the picture and said, "I think all it needs is some new tires." Lol. Yeah I bought new tires about 2 months ago. Oh well. Sorry, this really is the final lesson. LESSON 11: You can't control everything so sometimes you gotta let stuff go. Bye tires. It was real.
Love to my friends. You are the best."
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