Catherine and William Blake had less than an hour to collect their belongings when the Black Forest wildfire evacuations forced them from their home.
“We got our dogs and a lot of important items from the house before we left,” said William. “We didn’t have enough time to get everything; we made it out just as the smoke was rising from behind our yard.”
The Blake’s then had to wait nearly a week before they could return to see what became of their home. Unfortunately, their house could not be saved from the blaze although some of the houses surrounding them had been spared.
“It was shocking to see when we got here,” said Catherine. “I couldn’t believe how everything was just gone.”
Shortly after returning to their home they stopped by the Red Cross aid station and picked up a fire debris sifter, rakes, shovels and gloves to go through the ash and rubble to see if anything was salvageable.
“I’ve found some teacups and things I wouldn’t have thought would have made it,” said Catherine. “I’m going to try and find my ring and my mother’s china but I can’t even tell what anything is.”
While the Blake’s were outside digging through the ash and debris which was once their home, Red Cross volunteers and the fire chaplain stopped by to see how they were doing. Teams of Red Cross mental health counselors along with the fire chaplains have been going through areas damaged by the wildfire to speak with residents and offer emotional support. The volunteers offered resources for recovery, comforting words, hugs, and even a stuffed animal for their daughter.
“She’s taking it very well and looking forward to the cleanup,” said William, referring to his daughter.
Catherine and William are taking everything in stride as they work to rebuild their lives after the disaster. They agree that what matters most is that they have each other, their daughter and their pets.
“We will rebuild,” said William. “We don’t know if it will be here, but we will rebuild.”