Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 26th

I will never forget June 26th. It was the day 1 year ago that I got appendicitis while 6 months pregnant in a foreign country. It was the scariest day of my life. Then yesterday on June 26th, 2012, I had the second scariest day of my life.

We'd been watching the smoke and the news for days, waiting to find out if our neighborhood would be evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon Fire that erupted west of town. On Tuesday afternoon, I started feeling really antsy and just wanted to get out. We started packing and arranged a place to stay. Then a friend called me and asked if I'd seen the fire. I stepped out of my front door and, instead of just the huge black cloud that had been hovering over our home all day, I saw fire creeping down the mountain - our mountain - down toward our house.

I did what any good woman would do and panicked. We got out of the house within 10 minutes to safety and missed the traffic jam that trapped many later while trying to get away from the fire. Here's what we saw a block from our home as we drove away.

As we got farther and farther away from our home, you could see an orange line climbing down the mountain about a mile long. It looked apocalyptic. We got out and are staying with my parents in Denver.

It was chilling to watch national news coverage and see this:

Which just so happens to be the neighborhood directly south of my own; the church at the bottom right is 1 mile from our house.

Then we saw this:

And realized this is the fire slowly creeping down to our neighborhood, which is in the bottom middle of this photograph. 

As far as we can tell, our neighborhood didn't burn, but we won't know for several days. This is the map of the fire perimeter as of Tuesday night. Red is where fire burned. The yellow dot is where our home is (on the righthand middle side).

So we don't know what happened today, but are hoping our neighborhood is staying out of the flames. Now I go between wanting to obsessively watch the news and wanting to be completely ignorant of what is happening. For instance, I just saw someone post that Mt. Blodgett looks like a volcano, which breaks my heart. Each morning, it's the first thing I look at. Whatever happens, nothing will ever be the same. Instead of looking out upon grand forests, we will see black and bare hillsides.

Perhaps the wildflowers will be divine, but for now, I am in mourning.


Mike Van Schooneveld said...

I remember it because it's my half birthday, which is when we used to celebrate since my real birthday is the day after Christmas. I used to get one present on my real birthday and the rest of the hooplah on my hal birthday. It was kinda fun, actually. But it has not be an auspicious day for my wife. It's not often you get to have the experience of seeing destruction descending on your peaceful neighborhoor like a storm. That's what it was most like, like a storm front suddenly crashing down on us, the flames, the wind, the smoke. Although I'm glad we got out fast for Amber and the baby's sake, I wish I could have taken a few moments just to take it all in. Bad or good, it was a rare experience and an intense one. And those are the moments we remember.

Anonymous said...

Amber and Mike, I wish there were something I could say to comfort and encourage you. I know that, regardless of what happens in the next few days and weeks, certain things about your life together have changed forever. So mourning (and probably a lot of other emotions I can only imagine) is to be expected. I love you both and count myself enriched by simply knowing you. If you'd like a day away, the smoke has cleared here, and we would welcome you with open arms and hearts.


Amber said...

Thank you, Candace! You and I will have to share fire survivor stories in August!