Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sifting Through The Rubble

Click here for more pictures of our workday in Ranch Bernardo.

This morning I got up early and headed to the Taco Bell in Rancho Bernardo. There I met up with about 40 volunteers. We were all responding to a request asking for volunteers to help families sift through ash and rubble looking for valuables. As I looked at the rag tag group assembling in the parking lot- I noticed that a number of people were wearing souvenier T-shirts from the Gulf Coast. So many of the group had made trips with Friends and Family Community Connection to help rebuild after Katrina - now that experience was coming in handy here at home.

Our Team. Front Row Are The Families Who Lost Their Homes In The Fire

We headed as a caravan to a cul de sac where we would spend the morning doing recovery work at three homes. We broke into teams with shovels and rakes and began to search, sift and clear. At each home we worked along side the homeowners and helped them in the search. The homeowner I met was a collector of china. She showed me where in the house the china cabinet had been. I went to work collecting as many remnants of china that I could.

Salvaging Pieces Of The China Collection

The next home I helped at belonged to a frail 80 year old couple. The rubble was too much for them to navigate. I held the lady's arm and helped her out of the rubble to the side of the road so she could sit in a lawn chair and observe. One of the greatest joys of the day was when we found a china cup and saucer and a crystal elephant intact. I took them over to her in the lawn chair and handed them to her with a big smile.

China Cup and Saucer and Crystal Elephant Found Here

At one home we found backyard lawn furniture, plants, fountains, sculptures and a BBQ -- all completely untouched by the fire. The house, however, burnt to the ground. You could see the family had done everything right when it came to fire prevention. Tile roof, big fire break zone - a ravine covered with ice plant. Yet, the fire jumped the ravine and the green space, completely jumped the backyard and hit the house. They lost everything. The house next door had no damage.

Backyard and BBQ UnTouched

After lunch went a couple of streets over and started work on another set of three homes. One house had a truck in the garage - well under the collapsed garage. We cleared the debris so that the truck could be towed away. Parts of the garage door was under the truck, which no longer had any tires. We had to lift the truck to clear the garage door.

Garage Debris Cleared Away

Below is a picture of the view from the backyard of the final house of the day. This couple left at 4:30 am on Monday morning for a mission trip to Peru. They drove to the airport not knowing that there house was in immanent danger. When they reached their stop over in Miami they learned that an hour after they left their house burnt to the ground. We were helping them search for some Navy Medals and Cuff Links that had been presented by President Reagan.

Cross Stands On Burnt Hillside

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