California In Flames

Cindy reports from the Focolare community: “We got away and are now safe. My heart is in pieces for the people who lost everything. This is how we’re learning what matters in life, certainly not material things. Up until today the death toll has risen to 31 and more than 400 missing.”

Countless homes have been burnt down. The most devastated counties include Sonoma, Mendocino, Yuba and Napa. Thousands of people have already been evacuated, especially in Napa County, which is known for its wine vineyards.

One of the most hit areas is Sonoma County where Santa Rosa is located, which is head location for more than 200 thousand inhabitants. Entire regions of the city have been reduced to ashes.

20171013-04From Santa Rosa, Cindy Fitzmaurice,  from the Focolare community was able to send news through Facebook, concerning the difficult conditions that many are living in now that they’ve had to abandon their houses. “We’re ready to flee,” she writes, posting a photo taken around three o’clock in the morning, in which the sky appears orange. “My heart is in pieces for my friends who have lost everything. We’re learning what really matters, and it’s certainly not material things.”

It’s been a hard experience for Cindy and her neighbours, fleeing the fires in the middle of the night, looking for shelter in the homes of friends. Some had to escape with nothing but their pyjamas, leaving everything else behind.

Fortunately, she writes again: “Evacuated, but safe and sound. May God bless Santa Rosa. Leaving my house after 25 years was hard. But at least we had enough time to do it and, for this, we are eternally grateful. Other’s can’t say the same. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring.”  

Following a night of fear and praying, last Wednesday Cindy was able to tell her friends about the good news: “Feeling extremely grateful. We are back home this morning. “Feeling extremely grateful. We are back home this morning. For now. the winds shifted east overnight toward Napa. Good for us, but so bad for others. I can’t even imagine their loss.

Cindy thanks her friends who take care of them, especially her elderly mother-in-law. “All we can do is be grateful and see how we can help others. Thank you all for your prayers.” Cindy’s 18 year old niece works at a nursing home: “All the residents were evacuated to anther city. I’m proud of how she’s taking care of all of them.”

Many others have posted photos on Facebook of their houses devoured by the flames and reduced to ashes. But they’re grateful to be alive. This is what matters most.

Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the families of victims of widespread wildfires in northern California, and promising prayers for all those affected.