Camp Fire Victims Return To Paradise


While this story is about tragedy and loss, it is also about a story of strength, triumph and remarkable courage considering the circumstances. There is a deep lesson in this story that I hope will give a sense of gratitude irrespective of your circumstances. The Camp Fire the largest and deadliest wild fire in California History.

The Story

Camp Fire Victims returned to their homes for the first time after more than 5 weeks.  They had no idea what to expect.  They did not know if their homes would still be there or not.  For thousands, the news was not good.  Their homes and livelihoods decimated and gone.  Memories etched in their minds.  A few lucky ones were able to snag a few images on their way out, but most of the Camp Fire victims had to leave with little time to gather much of anything.  The firestorm blew through Paradise burning nearly 14,000 homes to the ground and damaging or destroying more than 4,000 other buildings and scorching more than 153,000 acres.  The death toll as of today stands at 88.

I was in Paradise the day residents were allowed to return surveying the cataclysmic damage.  I spoke to people who were sorting through the rubble of what was once their life to see if they could find any little thing to salvage.

I honor these brave men and women who are holding their heads up high and in such an awful and traumatic time in their lives. And not only that, they are finding courage and inspiration to look on the bright side and a future full of unknowns, rebuilding and starting from scratch.  They all collectively shared they are grateful to be alive and sad their homes are gone, but happy they made it out safe.

While I spoke to several residents that day who came back not knowing what they’d discover all of them were in amazing spirits.

I asked one particular resident how she managed to be in such great spirits considering and this is what she shared.

“Well I had a place to go and I had friends and I landed really softly. You know I had a place. I don’t end up on the streets or in a shelter. I went right to my friends house. That’s my secret at this point, but you know the other thing is stuff is stuff. The things I miss the most are my family stuff, but other than that it’s just stuff so that’s the lesson I’m learning.”

Watch the piece below.

Again this is a very hard story to do, but the point here is to not dwell on the sadness and tragedy, but the beauty and power of how our inner strength and courage is source of remarkable reliability when life tests us. This is what inspires me. It’s not the fall that matters, but the comeback that counts. It’s about how remarkable it is that people can lose everything and pick up the pieces and with such grace and conviction.

Image on the home page – credit – Chico Enterprise Record

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.