Almost 2 weeks later – Tubbs Fire
2 weeks later
It has been almost 2 weeks since the fires started on October 8th. We know our home is gone despite not being allowed reentry. Some of this is due to the continued search for missing persons, reminding me of how fortunate we are. The other part is due to Hazmat and the electric company needing to ensure safety for residents.
Every time I think of the missing and the now dead, I am saddened and deeply grateful. The fires started at 10pm. They spread rapidly, covering ground faster than any of us could outrun.
We are fortunate for the knock on our door at 2am…
To get out…
That all we lost was our home and earthly possessions.
The wave of emotions over the course of a week or two after such a disaster are funny.
The first 48 hours are pure adrenaline. Living the actual experience, the jump to action the following day, and the lists, lists, and more lists.
The shock continues through the week. Depending on your personality there may be tears, laughter, or quiet. I learned that I am somewhere in between laughter and quiet. I tend to make light of grave situations. It is my coping mechanism. Sometimes inappropriate. Sometimes ineffective. But mine either way.
At other times I just sit quietly. I think the exhaustion of the ordeal sits in and I become an introvert. I don’t answer calls, engage minimally, and just zone. Some might call this depression. They are probably correct.
Waves and stings
Then came Monday. One week out. I went to our new apartment and walked in. We downsized from a McMansion (3100 square feet with a killer view) to a 700 square foot 2 bedroom/1 bath. We are fortunate to have found anything as there was a housing shortage in Santa Rosa before the fire storm. Now with an additional loss of 5% of homes, the situation is much worse.
Still, even with my rational brain telling me we were lucky, my emotions got the better of me. On Monday I felt the loss of our home. It is not so much the possessions, but the community we had built and our home which was a place of many gatherings.
The things are just that, things. But throughout the week there are moments where those things halt you in your track. Like the lost birth photos or the earrings my son picked out as a mother’s day present. Those moments come, stab you, and then leave much like a bee sting.
Now it is Friday and I am exhausted but I see traces of my normal life. Each time it feels normal I take a moment and breathe. I know that in 3 months the new routines will have set in. Will we still be in our current apartment? I am not sure, but we will still be together and that is all that matters.
As for future posts, I am working on a number of ideas from being forced into minimalism to how the insurance process works. If you have any ideas or suggestions please let me know.
Other disaster stories
Finally, Liz at Chief Mom Officer started a blogging chain in support of our recent disaster. Bloggers from all over the country and the web banded together to discuss their history with evacuations and emergency plans. Please check them out below. We are now up to 19 total links.
- Anchor: DadsDollarsDebt – Tubb’s Fire – A Sudden Evacuation
- Anchor Two: Chief Mom Officer – Going Beyond The Emergency Fund-A Harrowing Escape Inspires The Personal Finance Community
- 1: OthalaFehu – Cool As A Cucumber
- 2: The Retirement Manifesto – Am I A Prepper?
- 3: Mrs. Retire to Roots – In Case Of Emergency Follow The Plan
- 4: The Lady In Black – Emergency Preparedness
- 5: The Green Swan – Preparing For The Worst
- 6: Minafi – Minimal Hurricane Preparation
- 7: A Gai Shan Life – Earthquake and disaster preparedness
- 8: The Financial Journeyman – Emergency Preparation: Be Proactive
- 9: John And Jane Doe – Thinking the Worst: Emergency Planning or Fighting the Last War?
- 10: Adventure Rich – Emergency Preparation Up North
- 11: Money Beagle – How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?
- 12: Crispy Doc – Fighting Fire With FI/RE
- 13: She Picks Up Pennies – How Can A Planner Be Unprepared?
- 14: Chronicles Of A Father-Getting Ready for a Natural Disaster
- 15: Rogue Dad MD- Disrupting the Equilibrium
- 16: Unique Gifter-10 Ways To Help Disaster Victims
- 17: SomeRandomGuyOnline-Friday Blog Roundup – Emergency Preparedness Edition
Also published on Medium.
12 thoughts on “Almost 2 weeks later – Tubbs Fire”
Been thinking about you and your family, very glad you posted. I won’t comment on what you wrote, but instead try to let you see through my eyes. Everybody’s different but there is much that is common.
I’m not sure we ever “returned to normal”. We instead grew into a “new normal”. When we burned down I was typical in being a physician. I trained as a cardiac anesthesiologist, so I was used to going toe to toe with cardiac surgeons and being the guy at the head of the bed who didn’t have the luxury of losing his mind while everybody else lost theirs, so I had one set of coping skills I’m sure you are very familiar with. My wife was not trained to be like this. She was trained as an OT. We did eventually make it to counseling, good decision. Like I said previously I’ve studied the natural history of this and this ranks just below losing a kid in terms of trauma. I say this because your wife’s response may be very different than yours and may go unrecognized by you not because you don’t care but because of how you trained. Took me a while to understand this.
For us it was like we were adrift. All the moorings had been cut. This will last a while, for me about a year but slowly new moorings will form. Here you have this great little life going and BAM, kinda pisses you off. I say this because you and your wife will go through some of the stages of mourning your old life, Kubla- Ross style, so maybe take a look at those. (My pathology professor was Manny Ross). Key for me was to understand the dynamics of the process and be able to write off my emotions and sometimes her emotions to process and not blame. If you see anger etc. in her, read the steps of resolution. Doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t real but it helped to understand they are expected. Life will be volatile for a while. See if you can come up with a vision of the future together and make that happen. Let the past be past. You never step into the same river twice. Just like the epochs of investing, this will have epochs so plan for that. In the end you, she and your son will be fine. You can’t force it you just have to live through it, same as you can’t force a wound to heal. But you can provide an environment, like protein, vit C zinc, no infection, etc to augment the process.
As time passes the new normal will come into focus and that will become reality. My fire was Dec 24, 28 years ago. The check for renters insurance was on the coffee table waiting to be mailed. USAA was the winner that day! It’s a memory. Today I am FIRE’d with the same wife, and stepping into a new river everyday.
One other thing is you have been given a unique experience and live in a place where this experience is shared by other people. I bet you will soon be able to pick out these processes in the people around you as they recover. That empathy may very well help you as well.
Thank you Gasem. Your words are soothing and truly appreciated. This is a crazy and traumatic time in our lives. It is good to know there are others out there who have gone through it and rebuilt.
My parents in Louisiana and my wife’s parents in New Orleans have 1 neighbor on each side that was a total loss from a hurricane or non-hurricane flooding. Rebuilt now same owners and everyone is happy like a distant memory. It’ll happen…
Glad to hear. I miss NOLA for sure….
Hey, DDD. Thanks for the update. Such a horrible tragedy. I’m so glad you and your family are safe. I’m also curious to see how things unfold with your homeowner’s insurance. Something tells me it isn’t going to be a smooth ride. When my brother-in-law’s condo got wiped out by Tropical Storm Sandy, he had a devil of a time dealing with insurance, FEMA, and New York State. Not fun. But at least you have the right temperament for the battle ahead. You’re a better man than I.
So far so good. They have been understanding. I have done 2 interviews, 1 for possessions lost and 1 for dwellings. Now comes the hurry up and wait part of it. I have not received any formal offers of settlement yet so I am hesitant to speculate. Also I think until everything is said and done I will be cautious in commenting/writing about it, at least not in specifics.
In some ways a fire is easier than wind and water damage. The insurance coverage is good and there is no question what remained- Nothing…
Will keep you guys posted.
Wow… I just saw this and your emergency wake up call post just today. I am so sorry for what you have had to go through. Glad you and your family escaped without harm.
Personally I am looking forward to your future blog posts on dealing with the insurance company, including whether you had enough coverage or too much (i.e. having the extra didn’t help), what they are going to require as proof of contents when everything is gone, etc.
Curious as to how your employer handled your emergency as far as leave and future absences as needed for future issues, moving, building, meeting with insurances, etc. I am guessing being a cardiologist you have a bit of maneuverability in moving appointments/surgeries?
If this had happened to us or any evacuation we’d be eff’d because we have not planned for anything. I have already learned quite a bit from your posts and plan on following the links to other bloggers.
God speed and good luck!
Thanks. Great ideas and I will be working on them as time goes by!
I can’t even begin to understand what you must be going through. I appreciate you honesty and acknowledgment of the raw emotions you are experiencing as you process this unfortunate event. I’m keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong!
Thank you Mrs. Wow. Appreciate it…the emotions are variable but definitely raw.
Sad to see the satellite pic of your house, Dad. I thought through our house as I read your post, and thought about all of the things we’d lose in a fire. You’re right, it’s not the material things you think about, but the sentimental things that tell the stories of our lives. Glad you still have the painting from your son!
Supposedly we can go back today…we will see if any scraps survived to keep as future keepsakes.