Statement from Reverend Janice C. West:

Thank you.  Thank you for reaching out to me yesterday, in the midst of the uncertainty caused by the fires in Sonoma and Napa Counties.  In my lifetime, there has never been a wildfire to race across so much of my home town of Santa Rosa. It was harrowing to get reports, especially of the closure and evacuations of hospitals and nursing homes. And then the reports from friends who had lost everything.  Everything.

The details are this: Early in the morning the mandatory evac was all the way out to Forestville on the River Road to the coast.  It was then brought in to a mile west of our family home, where my younger brother, Tim, still lives.  Through my nephew, Kyle, I learned that Tim was planning to stay put.  He was watering the land, the outbuildings and the roofs. The house is a flat roofed, cinder-block house, so there was hope that if the fire did get that far, if would not be badly consumed.

The fire came over the hillsides, destroying a very affluent area that was recently developed.  It also destroyed the historic “Fountain Grove” round barn on the hill. Because of the tremendous winds, the embers of the fire then took out a trailer park and jumped the six lane highway, leveling everything in its path – fast food places, restaurants, small businesses, warehouses, the Kmart, and then onto the housing in the area – which was mostly middle to lower middle income housing.  It stopped about a mile east of the family home.  Someone said it looked like a bomb had gone off.

Tim got some rest from watering, but is still vigilant.  All it takes is one errant ember.  This is the fire season out there, and unlike right now here (where it is raining, and I am thankful) the rains do not start in earnest until mid-November. . .and then it is, in a good year, an average of not more than 30 inches.

None of the Presbyterian Churches in the Presbytery of the Redwoods have been touched.  The Camp, Westminster Woods is well out of distance, although the Directors lost their home in the fire.  Most of the Church buildings are serving as evacuation centers now.  In an area already pressed, there will now be a great need for long-term, temporary, and affordable housing.

So, thanks for asking. . .as we add the fire situation in California, to our prayer list.  So many to pray for. . .so many to pray with.  As Presbyterian Disaster Assistance reminds us – Give, Work, Pray. . .for hurricane relief, earthquake relief, wildfire relief.

Pastor Janice

October 10, 2017

Statement from Stephen Kahle, highschool classmate of Bob Luebbers:

Thanks Bob, we are fine, all of the fires including Anaheim are well north of us, but oh so devastating, our hearts go out to the neighborhoods in Santa Rosa. One of the hotels we used to stay at in Santa Rosa was listed on the news this morning as having burned down. In October 2003 and again in 2007, we had narrow escapes from large San Diego County fires and the risk is still there, so please keep the prayers coming.

October 10, 2017