Thank you, everyone, for your prayers. I think they might be the one thing sustaining us right now.
I am writing from Orange County. My wife is an amazing trooper — she drove most of the four-hour drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic up from San Diego, while I spent most of the trip vomiting (we think it was probably due to smoke inhalation). Our family is still safe, but all we have right now is what we could cram into the car during the mad dash to evacuate our place. We are hearing reports that our apartment is still standing, but at literally the next stop light up the road the fire departement is not allowing people to pass because of the continuing fire danger.
We spent most of yesterday at church helping out church families who were, and still are, under mandatory evacuation from their Rancho Bernardo homes. Just to give you an idea of the sheer destructive force of these fires, here is the preliminary report of homes lost in the Rancho Bernardo neighborhood alone (although, because so many residents have been trying to access the site, you might want to wait a couple of days before checking it out so that there is more bandwidth for those affected).
There are wildfires raging in Orange County as well, which is what brought us to my father-in-law’s place. If they need to evacuate (which is still a realistic possibility), then we wanted to be available to help them. Things seem relatively stable here, so if we get word that we can return to our homes then we will be back in SD tomorrow.
Our students are frightened. I can’t tell you how many of them received phone calls from their friends, weeping because they had already lost their homes. One of my ninth-graders, in fact, was the first one to inform her friend that she had lost her home after seeing their address listed during the continuous television coverage. How do you deal with that? We prayed together and tried our best, with racing hearts, to reassure and comfort them.
Worse still, many of them live in the neighborhoods that were hit hardest. One of my youth group teachers left her house with only her family and the clothes on their back when the police arrived at their house at four in the morning, urgently telling them to evacuate because the fire was already destroying their neighborhood.
We’re still waiting to find out which homes are still standing. It’s the not knowing that is the worst part. Yes, yes — it’s just stuff; but, at the same time, these homes are safe havens filled with memories and it has been utterly crushing to just sit and wait and watch while San Diego burns.
Over half a million people have been evacuated. There are over 20,000 people taking refuge at Qualcomm Stadium. The fires continue to rage across thousands of acres and turn countless lives upside-down. View the San Diego Tribune’s interactive map to get a sense of the vast scope of devastation in the San Diego area.
Somehow, we know that God is bigger than all of this — but, from down in the soot and ash, fear and despair, it is so hard to trust. We treasure your continued prayers for all of us here.