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Noah, Abel, and Carlotta Lose Home

$16,331 of $12,000 goal

Raised by 114 people in 10 months
Created August 3, 2018
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Noah Cornell

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Noah, Abel, and Carlotta lost their homes and all of their belongings in the Ranch Fire on Sunday, July 29th. They were able to evacuate safely, but it will be a long journey to rebuild or just find a stable home again. They can use help with the costs of making ends meet and finding housing for the interim period.

Their 80 acre property is located on the Mendocino/Lake county line. An equipment operator friend, who is working on the fires, was able to go to the property and confirm that it is a total loss. They have not been able to return to view the damage yet, and are currently staying with friends.

The Ranch Fire burned intensely through the valley, taking everything with it. Your support is greatly appreciated. Thank You!

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Hello everyone, there have been a number of donations to the campaign since my last update, so I wanted to say some thank you’s and give an update on how things are going. First, I’d like to acknowledge that many, if not all, of the contributors to our campaign who I thought were strangers are in fact my part of my Dad’s extended professional and social network. My dad is well liked many people in many places, for lots of good reasons. I like him just as much as you all do, and will continue to do my best to emulate his approach to living well in this world. Thank you all for extending your kindness to my family. I would also like to take the time to thank my mom, Stephanie, for so generously contributing toward the tuition at Abel’s school, the Waldorf School of Mendocino county. Outside of food and shelter, keeping Abel in the school where he’s has so thrived is incredibly important to me. We attended the ceremony for Abel’s transition to first grade this week and my tongue is still sore from biting it so hard to keep my shit together during the ceremony. We’ve received a lot of love and support from the school community and the school itself, for which we are thankful.

More thank you’s. Thank you to my old friend Nathan Hall, who offered to come out during his only break from his career building houses to help me build a house, as well as his generous contribution. Thanks to Casey O’Neil for reaching out and being a really good dude. Thank you to Tuft and Needle, the bedding company, who is partly owned by my dads partner Mick’s niece. Tuft and Needle sent us two new beds, frames, sheets, and a very fancy bean bag for Abel, completely free of charge. The beds are lovely, and we are resting well. Also thank you to Orion Walker, who probably won’t see this, to opening up his house for us to stay in for the winter.

As far has how we’re doing, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I have always prided myself on having a steady head and hand during stressful times, but I’ve been a bit of a mess for the last couple of weeks. When I’m not dealing with the aftermath of the fire, I’ve been mostly inclined to curl up in a cave and lick my wounds. I try to remind myself that most folks in crisis are not sleeping in high end beds in hand made straw bale houses, and that it could be so much worse, and is so much worse for so many people around the world. Even when I am unfortunate, I am still incredibly fortunate. That being said, I’m trying to let my myself indulge a bit in being sad. People in California talk about doing self-care a fair bit, which I usually find too self indulgent for me, but I think I’ll try and figure out what self care is, and try and do some this winter. There’s a particular kind of weary that comes with losing everything, and I’m going to have to try and get my energy back to get to the after part of this.

Abel is doing well, for the most part. He’s getting used to be in first grade, and his new living situations. He has expressed concern about whether we are safe or not, in general. He’s worried about whether our new house is strong enough, or whether there will be another fire, and he is worried about whether his mom will be ok. These things kill me, of course, but I’m happy that he feels like he can express himself and I’m doing my best to keep the dialogue going and navigate the hard questions. I think he’ll be fine.

As far as the rebuilding goes, we slowed down to the inevitable crawl. I’ve had foresters, architects, utility people, heavy equipment operators, FEMA people, insurance guys, and lots of other professionals up to help out pieces of the rebuilding puzzle together. I think all of the balls that need to be rolling are, and we will see how long it takes for things to come together. I will try to do as much of the building and contracting as possible to make funds go further. We won’t know what’s possible until we settle with the insurance company, and we are anxiously awaiting their settlement offer. I hired someone to help with the process, because dealing with the insurance company was particularly difficult. I spend a lot of time walking the new landscape trying to envision rebuilding a homestead that can handle the changing California climate. My life mostly revolves around stewarding the top 12 inches of soil, the place where all of the magic happens. It’s essentially all gone on my land, all of the biological resources stripped temporarily. Trying to be a decent steward of our rebuild, as well as the regeneration of the landscape, is still pretty exciting. I spend a lot of time in the places where water is still flowing, where life is still happening, and have taken countless pictures of little green sprouts that have already begun to emerge from the moonscape. I think that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks again to all, and my apologies to any I may have missed.

Noah
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This is Bill writing tonight rather than Noah to offer my thanks to all of you who have made a donation to support Noah, Carlotta and Abel as they find their way forward after the fire. Noah has been going nonstop, so I thought I'd step in to offer an update in his place. I have been deeply touched by the wonderful response of family and friends, far more of you than I could ever send personal emails of thanks to. It goes without saying that the money that has been donated will be of immediate, crucial use for them in the days ahead as they begin to put their lives back together. But more than the money, the outpouring of support, the personal messages that people have left, have gone a very long way in helping them feel less alone as they regroup emotionally and practically. I've been here with them for the past few days after what felt like an endless wait to be able to join them. I've watched Noah spend endless hours on the phone and email trying to gather information--there are so many questions that confront them as they rebuild. His patience and persistence has been remarkable. The extent of the fire in Lake County is hard to believe, and it is still burning, though now in areas the are largely unpopulated. The firefighters have been relentless, and they have undoubtedly saved many lives and many homes. Lake County is a rural area, and being here in person, I see not only the impact on people and families, but on the farms and livestock. When there is no power, how are fields irrigated and livestock watered so they, too, can survive? There is danger even after the fires subside. The efforts to restore power have also been extraordinary. Today I went to Noah's home and farm for the first time. It is hard to convey the extent of the devastation. As you've seen in the photos, there is literally nothing left of their home. Seeing it in person is even more shocking and painful. The landscape in black, barren. It is like being on another planet--a very hostile planet. But it was once home. It won't be easy, but it will be a home again.
With my deepest thanks for your concern and your help,
Bill Cornell
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Hello all. So I see we’ve nearly met our goal, and that is totally amazing. Again, Thank you from all of us. Thought I’d give an update on post fire life. For me, the general feeling is that it’s time to transition from phase one of this thing to the next. On the land, we have cleaned what we are allowed to and set up basic utilities for water and power for while we are there. Now begins the process of beginning the long term strategizing for permanent infrastructure. For this part, I will have a number of partners, including insurance companies, utility companies, various contractors, and our local county government. All have been contacted already and the stage is set for the rebuild, beginning with power and water. I have also let all of my contacts at these agencies know that I will pester them, politely and respectfully, endlessly to ensure my process moves as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, moving forward will start to become more of a game of chess than an action sport, and I’m trying to find my patience and dig in for the long game. I have also been in touch with local land management entities that will provide some technical assistance for watershed protection and post-fire land management strategies. There is the potential for some cost sharing for the work I do as well, which is great. Native CA grass seed is really expensive.

More good news. It appears as though Carlotta and I have both secured semi permanent housing for the rebuild phase, at either greatly reduced rates or free. Finding housing that we can afford while still being on the hook for our mortgage has been one of the more stressful parts of this ordeal. Abel’s school starts in a couple of weeks, and trying to get ourselves settled somewhere by then is priority number one. Between the donations from all of you and the kindness of those offering housing, it seems like we’ll be able to pull that off. I will probably live a hybrid life for awhile, staying at the rental with Abel part time and staying on the land as much as possible. I imagine Carlotta will want to do the same. My garden shed, which miraculously survived the fire untouched, looks more like a sweet studio apartment every time I go up. I am also monitoring the local travel trailer market.

On the recommendation of folks who have been through this before, Carlotta and I went to the fire resources center they have set up in Lake County. We received some immeadiate aid, and a great deal of kindness from volunteers from all over the county. For that we are thankful. It was readily apparent however, that donations made either directly to folks that need it, like you all have done here, or donating to local organizations that have a permanent foothold in the communities that they serve, is a far superior approach. This may not be new news, but the difference in the room yesterday was stark. I plan to carve out more time for service to others moving forward, and this will be my approach.

Ok, all for now, pardon the typos and run on sentences. My father is coming out tomorrow to take us all out to the coast for a couple days to decompress, and then back to work. Thank you all who have donated since my last update.
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$16,331 of $12,000 goal

Raised by 114 people in 10 months
Created August 3, 2018
Fundraising Team
on behalf of Noah Cornell
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