and the Camp Fire. I have been beside myself the last couple of weeks. Going from numb and devastated to heart wrenching grief .
I used to live in Paradise and several surrounding communities from the late 70’s to the early 90’s. I kinda grew up there… My 20’s more or less. All the houses I lived in on the ‘ridge’ are gone whether I rented or owned them. My grandparents’ house is gone too. I am certain that many of the people I knew when I lived there are missing a house or much MORE!
The small town of Paradise was and still is a tight knit community of mostly retired people or working folk. Workers either worked ‘on the ridge’ or 20 miles ‘down the hill’ in Chico. The ridge community, Paradise and Magalia was smaller then, about 28,000, give or take. Both Paradise and Magalia were very proud of the canopy of pine trees that covered the ridge. The residents were rather critical of tree clearing on lots, regardless of the type of trees being removed. There were maples, oaks, dogwood and other ornamental trees as well, but the tall pines were the pride then.
My Connection to Paradise
I have a long standing connection with Paradise. It is where I learned to quilt. I joined the Ridge Quiters Guild in the mid 80’s, and I was the youngest guild member (26 or 27) back then which made me the baby. Those ladies welcomed me into the group and I had the most wonderful 7 or so years quilting in Paradise. They gave me a sense of community that I carry with me today… 25 years or so later. I also started a small business in Paradise and I still miss all my customers and often think about many of them.
There are only 3 main paved roads into (or out of Paradise) and only one up to Magalia; above Paradise, and a couple of dirt ‘forest service’ roads for getting on or off the ridge. The paved roads are mostly 2 lane with some areas for passing, but mostly 2 lane. And evacuating Paradise was often a topic of conversation, especially in the summer months. Nobody ever thought that the whole ridge would have to leave in 15 minutes.
Giving to Paradise
One of the things I have been wrestling with is how can I support the town of Paradise the best. I don’t live there any longer so offering to shelter friends or strangers is out. I could send money via… one of the help organizations, but the trickle down… takes so much time . In addition the recovery… of the Ridge residents will take years. And the help organizations will move on …. when the next disaster strikes, (I don’t think they will abandon the area, but the focus will shift.)
Then I found this! Sierra Nevada Brewery has found a way for everyone to ‘help’ no matter where we live! One glass or six pack at time. Every single dime of the purchase will go to Paradise. There is a list of brewery’s that have pledged to help by brewing a batch or two of “Resilience” Beer and sending 100% of the proceeds to the fund. However, even if you are not a ‘beer drinker’ you can buy a glass, schooner or pitcher and share with other tables or buy a no pour… either way it’s a donation to Paradise. If you are looking for current information about the area, the Chico Enterprise-Record is the newspaper to review.
No matter where you live you need to have an emergency plan. We have a couple of them in our house.
A ‘tornado’ plan. First, we have a list of items we take to the basement ahead of ‘siren going off’ (wallets, purses, phones, cameras, etc). Once the siren has gone off we take the dog(s) down and secure them and hopefully ourselves as well.
A ‘5 Minute’ plan. The things to grab in 5 minutes. One of us grabs clothing, medications, travel personal kits and shoes, (no real packing just toss and zip!) The other heads to the basement for the files all marked with RED tabs and the safe contents, laptops and NAS storage device. Next we grab a collapsible crate, dog leads and the pet food. And load it all into the car. In addition the cameras, phones and wallets. Tossed into a box. Nothing fancy.
We have a ‘More Time’ plan as well. More clothing, (the longer you can go with a laundromat the better) and all the cords to devices. In addition, some camping gear and sleeping bags; just the basics until the cars are completely full.
Furthermore we have a designated contact person! Make sure that all family members know who to contact in case of a situation like Paradise suffered. Our Rule of thumb is the oldest family member the furthest from the disaster. Because if the phone systems are still functioning, you can usually get a long distance connection, even when the local towers are over whelmed with call volume.
So if you can- help Paradise and make a family emergency plan. Even a general plan is better than none!
I had intended to add some photos of Paradise before… but can’t find any of my photos…. so we’ll go with no pictures