Written by Luke Hoftstetter
On October 8th, fires broke out in Napa County, overnight spreading to nearby Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Nearly a month later, these fires have laid waste to over 150,000 acres of land and killed over 40 people, becoming the deadliest natural disaster in California’s history. Thousands have lost their homes, and the laid back tourist destination has turned into what has been described as an apocalyptic wasteland. “It’s terrible”, said junior Trevor Brooks. “All those people lost their homes, their lives. Plus, the smoke has destroyed our air quality. Hardly anybody can go outside now without coughing and feeling sick. Unfortunately, the air quality in most of Southern California as well as the Bay Area significantly decreased after the start of the fires. Widespread reports of asthma attacks and smoke inhalation shook many Californians to their core, and brought on a sort of coming together to support the victims of this disaster. As the smoke lifted and winds stopped spreading the fires, people began to spread a message of hope and courage. Stories began to shownews that wasn’t about the latest death toll, or of the rate of destruction, but instead broadcasting stories of survivors. A couple who survived by hiding in their pool. A dog who helped save his owner’s life. Slowly but surely, these articles began to spread on news channels worldwide. The Trump administration also lifted spirits, promising to send federal aid and to extend a hand to the fire victims and their families. Now, as the last of the fires are extinguished, the public view has shifted to the long and painful journey ahead: reconstruction. And despite the doom and gloom of looming building costs, people somehow still remain hopeful… even when the bankers come round. While people still have a hopeful outlook on the fires, financial advisors have something else to say about the fires. Most estimates that have been released so far show rebuilding costs to be in the upper range of 6 billion, and despite the Trump administration’s promises to send money and emergency supplies, no such delegation has been received. Meanwhile, parts of the wine valley remain under armed guard by the military, due to the presence of toxic chemicals in the air from burning houses. Many insurance investigators confirm the military’s claims, demonstrating the asbestos that escaped from within older structures is still floating through the air. And yet, even after the fires have gone and people still can’t go into their homes, they are still grateful. Many say in published interviews that they are just grateful to be alive. That they are grateful their families are alive. And where gratitude exists, so does hope.