My husband and I have been evacuated from our Southern California home for 10 days. We’re safe, our home survived (just dumb luck) and we had the best evacuation center anyone could hope for—the Warren Family in Hermosa Beach—but even after 9 hours of sleep last night, I woke up feeling exhausted, cranky, grouchy.
This morning I told Ed, my husband, I’m suffering from Fire Fatigue.
The first morning we were evacuated I learned that one of my best friends had lost everything: her home had burned to the ground. Single, and in her mid-70s, will she be able to recover from such devastation?
That weekend we learned of many, many other friends in similar tragic situations.
The Red Cross emergency bags for residents who lost their homes contains a sifter: to help residents sift through the ash and soot to see if anything of interest is left.
Another friend has already hired a company to suck the smoke out of her family’s house. How did she even find such a company, and so quickly?
We’ve studied the neighborhood alerts day by day, hour by hour, as residents are allowed to “repopulate.” (That stupid sounding bureaucratic word is new with this fire. Why can’t they just say move back in.) We’re still waiting for our turn on our street.
Fire Fatigue helps me understand why no matter how much sleep I get in a clean room with beautiful non-smoky air, I don’t feel rested. I feel worn out. We may have survived, but how can we help others enough so that it matters.
We received hundreds of inquiries from all over the world—Belize, Finland, England—and from a few people I hadn’t heard from in decades. Everyone wanted to know if we were safe, if we’d lost our home. After a few days, I told Ed that this outpouring of concern and affection from so many people from so many aspects of my life reminded me of a eulogy. It was so touching to know that we’re that we’ll-loved.
Since most people outside the fire zone cannot grasp the magnitude of the scorched-earth devastation, after a day or two many started asking if we’d moved back in. That’s when Fire Fatigue expresses itself again.
We have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including a much-needed pause to regroup and refresh. To tell Fire Fatigue to get lost.