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One Year Later My Story

Marx Rehburg

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December 3rd, 2019 - 12:21 AM

One Year Later My Story

November 8, 2018




Introduction
The eighth has always been a day to remember no matter what month it is. As an example in August of '63 it was my birthday and again in '86 it was my daughters birthday. I am sure there are other very good and bad memorable happenings on the eighth of many months. This is about a not so good eighth day of the month. The day that changed the life paths of 56,000 people. This day the paths of all those people in an instant all came to one intersection, when each one of those townsfolk all shared the same goal; survival.

0645, 8 November 2018
The first sign of the Monster.

As we said our goodbyes and I headed out the door for the day my loving wife said, “Honey, I smell smoke.” I thought not much of it because it seamed she smelled smoke all the time. Also we lived in the mountains, and it didn't matter what time of year it was people were always burning leaves or brush in their yards. I dismissed it and walked outside. I walked towards the parking lot and there I saw the Monster for the first time. It rose above the distant pines like it was a cumulus cloud on the horizon. But this was no pretty cloud. It had no silver lining, as a matter of fact it was a dingy gray that was ringed with an ominous brown that one could almost hear it screaming, “your next I'm coming!” I instantly knew this was going to change everything. I turned back to Jo and said, “Honey, we have a big problem here! Do you still have that scanner on your phone?” Her response was extremely excited but yet her demeanor was almost care free. Like,”Its going to be fine, no big deal.” The next time I looked back at the monster it had grown to almost five times its original size! I walked to the truck and saw the normal rush hour traffic growing and yet moving slower and slower finally slowing to a crawl. Then Jo yelled with a tone I almost can't describe, she said, “They're evacuating!” The shrill and force of those words hung in the air for a moment, then it CUT into my back with a pain similar to razor knife, rising up my spine to my neck and kicking me in the gut as it passed by. Then as the sound rose into my mind and to my ears it rang like I was under a bell tower. It seamed foreign to me almost as though my brain refused to understand what she had said. Suddenly that wrenching feeling of panic, confusion and complete fear, struck me like I was being hit by a punch from a world heavy weight fighter. I was frozen, I could not do, say, or even move until she yelled to me, “Mark, they're evacuating the whole town!! Look everyone is leaving!” I looked back at the traffic, five lanes all headed in the same direction down the hill. Then it suddenly came to a complete stop!! Looking like that used car lot on the corner. Then it struck me...this is for real!
Suddenly that monster had seemed to have a twin coming at us from the North. First the east now the north. The winds, which whipped at us most of the time from the east, from the Garbo Gap area of the Feather River canyon, began to be stronger more like hurricane strength. They suddenly turned and and now came from every direction. As the winds changed so did the monster. The sky turned a jaundice color of yellow, like the sky in Cleveland did when I was a kid just before a tornado. The town of Paradise is on fire and we are going to be trapped!

I was living in Paradise
Paradise is a small town of 37,000 on a ridge in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. There are three main roads into the town. They each come up hill generally from the southern direction. One from highway 70 Pentz road, the next biggest road is Clark or highway 149, which is a two lane road from Oroville. The biggest is “The Skyway”, it is a five lane road that comes up from Chico. It is divided part of the way up then joins together as it enters Paradise. In downtown it shrinks down to two lanes. Leaving room for parking and a bike lane on each side, and creating a choke point. It does open back up to five lanes about four blocks after the downtown area. Just before my house. Above the town is the unincorporated town of 12,000, Magalia. It only has one road in, or out across the damn at the reservoir, “The Skyway”. Well to be more accurate there is another way out to the north but you have to go up over the top of the mountain through Sterling City and the last segment is not paved. It requires a four wheel drive vehicle to complete the journey.
We had worked on our dream of one day owning a studio/healing center and we had managed to make a deal on the perfect building with the best frontage in town. Our place sat on ¾ acre lot with a twenty space parking lot, three entrances and the best frontage on the busiest street in town, “The Skyway”! We moved in on the first of August 2018. It took five trailer loads to bring all our stuff from the four storage units, yes I said four, we had across town. The owner of the storage was sad to see us go. Hell in the four and half years we were there we probable paid for his car at the very least, his mortgage! I call it stuff but it was more than that it was my 4O1-K. My retirement, it represented the last twenty years of our lives. Some we had bought, you know the “deal” at a yard sale, Or some was just given to us, and some we inherited.
We worked on the inside of that building on Skyway long into the night, every night. Unpacking things we had forgotten we even had! I was setting up my art studio and art gallery, and Jo was putting together her healing center. It was truly a labor of love. We had our sign completed and ready to install. And had set a grand opening date, the 11th. It was good luck to open on 11/11. I had prepared an advertisement and contacted the town business commerce organization. But...

0715 Nov. 8, 2018

For the first five minutes or so I couldn't think or move, then I thought well I better call in and tell my clients I won't be making it in today! As though anyone in Butte county was going to have a “normal” day. Jo asked me who was I talking to? I explained how I didn't want to disappoint these people. She looked at me first with utter annoyance. But then she cracked a smile that turned into laughter. It was a very nervous laugh like she was shaking on the inside. You know that fearful laugh everyone has, the one when the cop pulled you over for speeding and asks, “ Do you know how fast you were going?” and we've all done it given him that sheepish grin and nervous laugh and said, No? Was I speeding?”
Right then Jo's face went pale and she said to me, “ Should I call Joni? And what about this person and what about? Should we call our families?” Her questions came at me like the rapped fire of a machine gun, the worse part of it was my inability to answer, not that I needed to because as fast as she asked, she answered her own questions. The one thought that burdened my mind was the mass amount of people in front of my house in that parking lot we once called the Skyway.

0745

We looked at each other and in almost unicen we said “The fire plan! Lets get to work!” We had ran this disaster scenario through our minds and had a plan. We both had a job to do. I was to make sure the vehicles were ready to go our valuables and necessities were together, Jodi would get our bug out bag then pack the dogs, then my paintings. If we accomplished all that we would see what else we could take. But I looked to the parking lot and thought, which vehicle? I asked what must have seamed like a dumb question to Jo. “Are you taking your car or the newer truck? Am I going to try to hitch the fifth wheel?” Jo at first looked at me annoyed then dumb founded? “Uh, The trailer we might need it!” So I got to the old ford I hadn't drove it since August I turned the key and started it up. Of course the fuel was about empty. The gas station was still open but how was I to get to it? Traffic was going the wrong way so, I (forgive me neighbors and the city) I took aggressive action and drove across yards, sidewalks, knocked over trash bins and up a 2 foot concrete retaining wall. But I got to the diesel pump. The station was packed cars were everywhere! I filled up and returned the same way. I entertained some in traffic and got encouragement from others. Telling me I was number one, well kinda.. Then I heard our neighbors in the back up the alley, they were obviously scared and confused. I walked to them we spoke and I discovered they had no way out! No car, they're families were unable to get to them so we were their only way.. I told them to go get only necessities, just a bag or two. Then go to the studio and wait. I feverishly installed the fifth wheel in the bed of the truck. A week or so before I had one bolt installed but gave up because I didn't have the tools. I still didn't, but had to do something. I got myself up under the bed over the top of the rear tire and got the second bolt in finally. It was crooked and bent and the threads were damaged and I could only get the nut on halfway. I then realized I was stuck! My head was pinned between the tire and the fender, it didn't matter which way I tried to turn I was stuck. I began to panic, I forced my arm up and around and was able to smack my head free. Then my lungs filled with smoke as wave of smoke had descended down on me. I chocked and gagged gasping for air looking for my inhaler. I finally found it just as Jo came out and in her panic voice screamed, “are you all right?” She later told me she felt my panic. I said I was fine she looked at me worried and scared. I said I know honey it'll be alright. This evacuation is only a precaution. We will be back sooner that we think. But I think we both knew. She went back inside and I backed into the yard and hooked up the trailer and pulled it out of the back yard to the parking lot. Then a car full of people pulled in, the parents were yelling at each other panicking. They had just about run out of gas.

0850
They were a family of five with the family dog and they were all scared. The parents were yelling pretty loud but the sounds of what I can only describe as artillery rounds almost drowned them out. “ One of the kids was crying and asking what was that?” after each boom. I asked if they were all right, I know stupid question. He said , “no man, I think were out of gas and got no money even if we could get back to that station.” I said well lets get your kids inside and out of the smoke and we will figure something out. By this time that monster had enveloped the whole area. To me it seamed as though it had engulfed the world, my world anyways. The sky had become almost as dark as evening in the wintertime. That ugly cold looking dead dark. But believe me this day was not cold, not yet. I looked back at the Skyway and I swear the same cement truck that was there a half hour ago had moved only 20 feet!

0900

Inside Jo was doing her best to keep our neighbors calm and listen to the news on the scanner. We all walked in they introduced themselves, Virginia and Michael. The dogs had become so excited they would not listen. Our dogs usually are very well behaved. My Lab was beginning to whimper, she could feel my pain. She was my assist dog after my back surgery. We were together always. She was trained to get under me to help me get up if I were to fall to the floor. We have a unspoken language. She is old now almost 14. She barked at me each time I went out the door. Michael and I went outside I had about 4 gallons in a gas can and some in the generator. He began siphoning to put it in his car. Then among all the sirens there came some from Bille towards us. A medic was hanging out the window screaming for people ahead of him to move out of the way! There were so many cars no one could move. The sheriff behind him was on his loud speaker saying they had a pregnant women on board giving birth right then and she was in danger! I had to help, I walked into the street and began directing traffic as best as I could. Telling drivers to pull over to the side and make room. It was like parking at a stadium or more like right after the game is over and there's a fender bender blocking half the way out. I went from car to car saying pull up further getting cars inches from each other. At this point I think half of all of Paradise was trying to leave on the same five lanes at once and that shrunk to two lanes in four blocks! They weren't moving fast, I was though, and by the time I had realized I was a quarter mile down the road. Then another wave like an ocean wave of smoke, thick gray chocking smoke, hit me like a blanket, a smothering blanket. I doubled over gasping for air. I walked slowly uphill towards home, I stopped at the nursing home next door and asked if they were all getting out? They said they were waiting on a bus but they were OK. As I walked down our drive Jodi came out and she was mad! She yelled at me in almost tears, “where were you? I thought...” she stopped not wanting to finish her sentence. “I had to help the sheriff he said there was a pregnant lady and,” She cut me off with that look of, It doesn't matter now. Right then the explosions became very close. It we shuddered with each BOOM! BOOM!
Inside the studio the kids were all hugging on their Mother, The neighbors were sitting together in the recliner and my dogs were in a frenzy. Everyone was scared and then, POP! The power was off. First words out of everyone's mouth was, ”Now! Now they finally turn it off?” We all had received notice from PG&E either the day before or that morning that they may turn off the power. Jodi and I looked at each other along with Michael and Virginia, I motioned for them to come outside. I asked Virginia if she had a license she said yes. Michael had mentioned to me earlier that he was unsure he had enough gas to make after he put the couple gallons from the generator in his truck. I said , “Okay here is the plan, Jo takes the gmc with the dogs in the back. We have to unload my tools, Virginia will take the trailblazer with her kids and one of the neighbors. I will drive the f250 and take a chance on the fifth wheel. Michael will bring up the rear. If you run out of gas just leave it and jump in with me or Virginia.


1045
It was now Midnight at 11 am November 8. So it looked anyways. Jo and I were at the door of the studio, our future, our retirement, all our creations from the last twenty years of our lives. It WAS us. A big part of us. I closed the door and without hesitation pulled out my keys and locked the door. I looked at her and asked, “Is this the last time I am ever going to lock that door? Because it sure feels like it.” With a tear in her eye and a shaky voice she said, “No! Don t think that way.” She hugged me, kissed me and said lets go the dogs are going nuts in that truck. I motioned I love you and said see you at the bottom. As yet we all had not actually decided on a meeting place. I told Jo to not let us get separated. And to Virginia I said stay with me no matter what. Michael, stepped out into traffic to stop the high speeding cars. (Sarcastic humor). Jo pulled out, as I went up over the crest of the drive and onto Skyway I looked back one last time and thought we will be back, they will get it under control. But deep inside I felt the pain begin. Then I heard the horrible sound of grinding metal and looked back at the hitch and saw it move! From that point on all I could think was please don't let me hurt someone. I was sure this truck and trailer were not going to make, and cursed myself for thinking it could. Needless to say speed was not an issue. But the stop and go was...
I think I actually touched the gas pedal once maybe twice all the way through downtown.
1145
We had just about reached Jack in the Box and somehow Jodi had gotten several cars ahead of me. She was moving but I wasn't. Just then Michael came walking up to my door! He said whats the hold up? I explained the cops were allowing the side road traffic in and we had to wait. He said he was good on gas and Virginia was good too. I said we will get out its just going to take longer. Several groups of people were walking down the road past us when I asked if they needed a ride they said no, we are moving faster than you and they had abandoned their cars a ways back! Instinctively I looked out my mirror and saw the face! The Monsters face was in my mirror! It opened its mouth and with a loud BOOM and the snaps and crackle of, well, a campfire it said to me “I'm coming and your not moving very fast! I will catch you all!” Michael saw what I saw and said I better get back, and he returned to his truck and went nowhere like me.
1230
By this time Jodi was about a block in front of me and as we came up on our old house on Elliot she pulled to the side to wait. Against the encouragement of the cops who kept waving her to keep moving. We had reached the choke point. Where what normally was two lanes turning into one each direction. I was about two cars from the intersection so she pulled into traffic. The smoke was like driving in fog but with ash raining down instead of mist. A car came up next to me with two small girls in the backseat and I guess it was their Mom driving. The girls were sobbing, but the Mom was trying to be as calm as she could be. I waved them in front of me, the Mom looked at me and she to began to sob as she said thank you. I waved as to say its okay, I wonder what happened to them and where they ended up living. I couldn't see where Virginia or where Michael were or if they were still behind me. What I could see behind me was black. The head lights were a dim light. The only other light were the red and blue flashing lights from the first res ponders. I kept thinking as we passed businesses that were on fire, I was just inside there yesterday. Telling this person or that of our grand opening, and asking them to stop by. Each building burning was the hope and dreams and their future up in smoke and in ashes. It suddenly got really hard to see. I had to have my windows open so I could hear the trailer, just in case. We had reached Pearson, Big -O Tires was still there but across the street the convenient store was burning. I thought, “the mural on the outside! Then I thought the Country club Market! My mural! I almost began to cry . Jessie, my youngest daughter, was going to be so upset. She and I worked all summer on that. Oh I hope it makes it.” I later found out it didn't. I had worked with the new owners for several weeks convincing them not to paint over it. Another treasure of Paradise Lost. Not just My mural but all the murals lost in Paradise. The lanes open back up after Pearson still traffic wasn't moving. But it was getting better, I looked back at the fifth wheel hitch and could see it was sitting crooked. All the stop and go had cause it to break a bolt in the vertical mount. I wanted to stop, tried to get Jodi's attention but couldn't. So I prayed some more. We actually picked up speed but then a car pulled out in front of me I hit the breaks and was sure I was going to hit them but it felt like I got hit from behind. Of course no one was stopping. I had reached city hall. It was still there but fire was all around. The small engine shop, The RV dealership. All those business gone, what were those people going to do for work? We reached the clinic, This was the last traffic light in town. It was surreal, it looked like a war zone. The fire alarm in the clinic was waling I could see the flames burning the condos behind. That was where Tara lived, our real estate agent. And all those nice older folks. Oh I hope they are all okay? Then BANG! It felt like someone had grabbed the trailer and jerked it to a stop! Then I saw a telephone pole crash to the ground! Jodi! Where are you! I couldn't see her anymore! The trailer behind me seamed to get pushed it jammed into the hitch and I thought this is it, its going to break free and I'm going to block the only way out of town! I hit the throttle hard, I think I came within an inch of the power pole turning hard to the left. The lanes that normally go down the hill were blocked. Five lanes of traffic were all headed to the two that were left. Horns began to beep and I heard more than one encouraging comment. But I had to find Jo. I had reached 25mph when traffic stopped again. The houses and trees to my left were blazing. The heat was intense I was now in the furthest left land, The guard rail was on fire! Hot embers whirled around me, Inside the cab of my truck! I closed my window a bit, but it stopped about halfway up, jammed! I began to have another breathing attack, grabbed at my puffer but it fell to the floor! Stay calm you can make it. I could see lighter skies in the distance, Almost out of this hell! But where was Jodi? Our speed began to pick up, Cars passed me on both sides. I had to get to the right. Then in front of me was a van half way into my lane! I was going about 35mph and straight for these people! No way I was getting to the left anymore. I saw the ditch directly to the right in front of the van, but I would still hit them! All I could do was aim the truck towards them, then at the very last second I swerved away to swing the trailer past without going into the other lanes to my left. I looked in my right mirror as I passed and I know there was only an inch between me and that van as the trailer passed by them.
1210
SUNLIGHT!!! Blue sky!! I had made it! But where was Jodi? And what happened to Virginia and Michael? Then I caught a glimpse of Michael and Virginia behind me! Oh thank god they made it through! Suddenly in front of me there she was. Waving her arms and jumping up and down. Xoee and Angels heads sticking out the back window of the GMC!! I could breath... thank God!! I hit the call button on my phone she answered I said go to Mikes house lets meet there and figure out what we are going to do. Mike was a very good friend we have known for 12 years or more. He was close just into Chapman town. I told Virginia and company to follow us.
The intersection at the bottom had been closed and the Chico P.D. Was directing traffic instructing us to go straight, I said I can't have to go to the right. I thought less traffic maybe? Well with 50,000 people converging on Chico at the same time traffic was everywhere!
1255
We reached Mikes house and by this time the trailer was dog legging pretty bad! I pulled in front of his house and knew that truck and trailer were going no where for a while. It had taken us two hours to travel what normally took 20 minutes. Of course Mike wasn't home. I said to Jo think he will mind? We laughed at each other. Then I think I broke first as we hugged. I felt my body growing weaker, shaking inside and I knew it wouldn't be long before she could feel me shake to. But I had to keep it together a little while longer.
1300
After our descriptions of the adventure down the hill, I gave Michael and Virginia some money asked if they had a place to go to. They said they knew of somewhere but didn't know if they had enough money. We dug into our emergency change jar and gave them another $40. We all hugged and said we have to stay int touch. Our neighbors that rode with us needed to go to the LDS church where their families were waiting. Jodi said she would take them. We exchanged numbers and again said to stay in touch.

Our Recovery
The days immediately after the eighth were like a dream, or nightmare. They were surreal, I remember as a child seeing the nightly news reports from the conflict in Vietnam this was just like that. Hearing of one, two, thirteen bodies then hundred two- seven hundred missing! The weather had become just as unreal. The day of the fire, well evacuation, it had started out to be a nice hot fall day. Now the weather had instantly become winter. I mean nuclear fall out winter. The type seen in movies and in horror stories. It was cold, gray and ash was falling like rain. The smoke cloud from the fire was encompassing all of Butte county and growing. It was so big it could be seen from satellite. It looked like the cloud from Mt. St. Helen's in the 80's. We had to use the propane heater in the RV. And wouldn't ya know it! It died! I had to pull it completely out to access it. Took the board to be checked and the guy said he had ever seen a heater board act like ours. It looked fine but did nothing, like the power just sucked into it but went nowhere? So that was the last moneys we had. We had used what little savings we had and the repairs to the RV took it all. And.... We knew we couldn't stay where we were parked at for long. We were right on the street! And down the road from an elementary school and this road saw a lot of traffic. Luckily all the schools had been canceled for the week and then some. But we only had power and water was intermittent at best. We had no sewer so we were going to the local store or gas station as needed. Our friend who's house it was, was in and out of town a lot so the fear of having the cops come down on us was always in our minds. Especially since they did a drive by at least twice a day.
November 20th 2018 Or there abouts....
Apply for FEMA is what we were told. I did, on line and well, we got screwed! Mistake #1. Applying on-line. I can say this because a friend who was in the same position we were, on a lease to own, etc. stood in line at the FEMA center and he was told he would receive the maximum benefit package. We were told as soon as they could verify our building was destroyed they would make a decision. This took well into the second month! We got help from other agencies, yes, this help we appreciated very much but was only enough to survive, barely, daily. Now we were luckier than others, we had a roof over our heads. I had visited Wal Mart, the parking lot and surrounding area had become a refugee camp. People in tents! It was instantly winter! It was down to the 40's We were cold in our trailer, we prayed for those, wished we could help them. So we decided to let those less fortunate to go first. We could wait. Another wrong decision!
Mistake #2 Don't be too proud or patient. It seemed that we would hear of events for assistance either as they began or when it was to late. We raced across town to find out the event had just given out the last...whatever it was. Or was told' “oh people were lined up an hour or so before it began this morning it lasted all of 30 minutes.” It was only nine in the morning! Then when we did get there on time and the “doors” opened, it was like a black Friday sale and a free for all. I just couldn't do it..
The worse was when the volunteers, I know they were just doing what they felt was best, would make me feel like I was less than a person. Their attitude of poor you, here is a cup of coffee, but the donuts are for the working people? Or being ralleyed through the FEMA center like cattle to slaughter was almost , no it was degrading. Then once inside you were thrown into the deep end without a clue as to what we were supposed to do? The frustration level was incomprehensible. I spent six hours at the DRC in the mall and got no answers as to the disposition of our case or even a time frame as to when they might be able to make a decision. On top of all of that, my friend from earlier, he qualified for the SBA loan to the amount of $50,000. We were denied because we had not officially opened our business. Even though I had gone through all the steps to establish and get an employer identification number. But we were not a business. And because my credit score was 5 or 6 points lower than my friend, “sorry we cant help you...NEXT!”
December 2018
We had gotten good news, not from any agency or government. But from some people I had met briefly before the fire. They contacted us and offered their property which had sewer water and electricity for rent. We were finally blessed. Originally the deal was we would be able to stay for 4 months or so, It has now been six months! They have been helpful in more ways than I can express.
We did finally get notified from FEMA that our home was a total loss, which we new. But they still had not inspected the property. Our Zone #4 was one of the last zones to reopen to the public.
My theory is that by the time they got to our case;
#1 The president had already been here so no need to make us happy in any way, who were we going to bitch to.
#2 Since we were the last the “big” money was already gone and the reporters were to so who cares.
#3 We had been waiting so long we would take whatever we could get. Starving during Thanksgiving just sucks.
I know this is ranting, but we had felt like we had gotten the table scraps and were being told we should appreciate what we were given. Like it was our fault our home was taken our bushiness' were gone our future plans up in smoke! We had nothing left, nothing but each other.
Jodi and I had worked our way out of poverty, I had been on disability and was still under the care of a Dr. But was able to use the ticket to work program, get us off housing, and well, start our own business and open a store. Having to stand in lines for hand outs I/we couldn't do.
When we finally received our grant it was even less than what I had been told at the DRC. It was considerably less, We got a total of $9000.00 what where we to do with that? It wasn't enough to leave state and find a place, nor enough to start over here? We had ran up a bill almost everywhere and needed to pay back several personal loans. So with what was left, we decided to look for another RV thinking we could live cheaper. Our RV was livable but damaged, it had begun to leak and I knew it would get worse. We thought we had found a deal!! Well you know the old saying if its to good.. it is! But that is another story that still continues today...




Prologue
It has been six months or so since the fire. We have suffered the greatest loss of our lives. Everyday I am reminded of an item or cherished memory I no longer have. When we run into friends from the Ridge the stories of that horrible day eventually come into the conversation. I have heard all the conspiracy theories some far fetched, to others that make you think, hmmm? But none can ever return all we have lost. Our dreams of opening a studio and healing center are gone. Our future still sits in limbo, and decisions as to where or what to do next go unanswered. We are so very grateful and appreciate all the help the surrounding communities gave, and now see first hand how so many disaster victims feel shortly after something like this has happened. Our country has such a short memory, once the cameras and reporters left and unless you are someone of importance, or know someone, you are pushed to the side and found on page twenty with a small paragraph or condensed version of your story. As one of the many artists in Paradise I lost irreplaceable original paintings, three hundred and thirty or so. Over forty years of work. I've been told, “just paint more”. I can't, the fire took that part of me, I've made one small creation and don't think that ability is inside me any longer. It took my greatest gift, my ability to see. Don't confuse this as to seeing through my eyes it took my artist's vision. A gift I was given and “they” took it away. Will it ever come back?
I have been able to “move on” in a way. But the scar and the empty void within me is as large as the hole in the ground is where my dream once lived on the “Skyway”.
This is how I saw November 8, 2019
Mark Rehburg


One year later
November 8th 2019

The day was marked with several well meaning “remembrance” events in Paradise. But we decided it was not something we wanted or thought we could bare remembering. So, we chose to stay home. We spoke about that fateful day and almost kinda laughed at some of the stupid things we did or said. Of course it was all over the TV so we didn't watch much. In some ways we have “recovered”. But in many we have not. As far as PTSD, yes we all have some. Like with our dogs, neither one will ride in the car the way they used to. And separation anxiety is like nothing I've seen before. Mine comes in the form aggravation while in traffic. Jodi's is a short fuse with both me and the dogs over small stuff. Loud noises startle me like never before and I have developed claustrophobia. Our health issues have gotten worse as well. Jodi gets more migraines and my breathing has not improved. As a matter of fact its gotten worse and is hard to hide anymore. We had to relocate to east Oroville to a house that the owner needed someone to remove the homeless that had moved onto the property. The house has sat empty for a year and it has been a lot of work to make it livable. They stole everything, even the water heater! After two months we might move into it this weekend a year and a week since we lost our home. The assistance we received has been non-existent we applied for every program we could but for one excuse, not reasonable reasons but excuses, we have been denied. Jodi spent over three months of painstaking review of photo after photo we had on line or on USB and was able to inventory 95% of what we owned. I love this woman and her obsessive picture taking and persistence in listing everything. As I write this the facts are as follows:
PG&E has admitted they were at fault for starting the campfire.
PG&E has also filed bankruptcy because of the campfire.
Our lawyers tell us we will be compensated. When is the question. How much will there be left of PG&E to pay for our losses? As it stands I will accept as little as 60 cents on the dollar just to get a quick settlement and recovery to finally be able to move on...
Until this is settled I will not feel like I can move forward with the rest of my life. I still have not painted or even really drawn anything, not sure if that will ever come back. What price does on put on loosing their creativity, what they were.
I was an artist, a creative, a Marx. Now I am just Mark.




Thank you first responders for your help that day.
Thank you Jo for being you.
My prayers go out to all those who lost that day and to all whom still feel the fire burning.

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