In my last entry, I talked about the fire here in Santa Barbara. The situation started improving on Friday, when our weather changed. The winds died down and the fog came back with its cooler temperatures. Many people were allowed to go back to their homes on Saturday. The fire continues, though, and there are areas still on mandatory evacuation.
I volunteered with the Red Cross at their evacuation centers, Thursday through Saturday, and I was so impressed with people’s strength and resiliency. I saw people of all ages and ability levels in the centers. It was so amazing to witness firsthand how people were dealing with this emergency. Almost all evacuees were focusing on what they had. They all wanted to go home, and find out if their houses were safe, but they knew that wasn’t possible. Instead of focusing on the impossible, they focused on the shelter they had, the cots that were there for them to sleep in, the abundance of food for them to eat, the coffee, juice, and water for them to drink, and the televisions that gave them news of the fire. Most of all, they seemed to focus on the kindness of strangers. They were so appreciative of how everyone at Red Cross was trying to help them. I lost track of how many times I heard people voice their appreciation to staff and volunteers.
All of the Red Cross people I met were so professional and caring. They worked long hours under difficult situations, but their attitudes and actions were inspiring and never wavered. I saw warm smiles and gentle touches whenever they interacted with the evacuees or with each other. Their voices were always friendly and soft, and conveyed their interest in being helpful.
I felt in awe of the human spirit that I saw all around me. People were dealing with what they had to, with an attitude of strength, patience, and grace.
If you live anywhere around Santa Barbara, you’ve been touched in some way by this fire. We all have had our daily lives changed in at least small ways, and for some, in very big ways. My hope for you is that there have been moments when you have seen something or someone that has inspired you and lifted your spirits.