‘Helpless Against Nature,’ Fleeing California’s Fires

‘Helpless Against Nature,’ Fleeing California’s Fires
Photo

The pool at the Journey’s End Mobile Park in Santa Rosa, where a fire burned most of the park. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “In California, Residents Flee Walls of Flame” (front page, Oct. 11):

While this horrible destruction was occurring up north, fires began raging here in Southern California, near Anaheim. I was driving into Orange County and passed by the flames as they began to burn the hillsides. The freeway going in the opposite direction had already been closed, so I knew that once I arrived, I wasn’t going back. I planned to stay at my daughter’s house, but before I was able to reach her, she was told to evacuate.

It struck me how quickly our lives can turn. All of a sudden, my daughter was confronted with choosing what to pack in the car and what to leave behind, and had to make that wrenching decision as the smoke began to engulf the neighborhood. Fortunately, her home was spared. Some friends were not as fortunate.

For months we in the West have watched families on the Gulf Coast and Florida deal with the imminent destruction of their homes. Now nature has turned its sights upon us. It is a very humbling experience. At the core, with all our might, we are helpless against nature.

We can never be complacent while some terrible misfortune happens to those thousands of miles away. We have to be compassionate and help as best we can. We may someday need the good graces of others. In the grand scheme of things, we are all in this together.

Somewhere, there’s a profound lesson in all that.

GENE GAMBALE, INDIO, CALIF.

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