The city of Paradise.
A 105-minute drive from Lincoln but now in a completely different universe.
A Rotarian colleague of mine told me he recently went to Paradise and we should consider going, just to see it for ourselves. For him, it was personal since his son and family lost their house and all their belongings. For us, it was a news story – tragic – but not personal.
Last week, my wife and I made the trek to Paradise. When you see the aftermath of a disaster on TV, it's on one level….pictures on a small screen. Actually seeing that disaster is another matter. Drive through Paradise and you see whole streets scorched, cars burned, homes and family recollections destroyed, and you only can imagine but not comprehend the loss and the fear.
It’s now two months after the fire, the rains have come and gone, and it’s still a war zone. Restoration/damage crews and power crews were everywhere during our visit, as was the constant flow of trucks filled with the remains of buildings being carted to who knows where. And we only saw a small sliver of the fire’s impact!
I walked around and through home areas where children played and families made plans. It was hallowed ground. As we drove back to Lincoln, it was a very quiet car, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
I have no idea what the residents of Paradise will do. There are signs of “Paradise Strong” everywhere and I wish them well. When I think about that fire – and a reported 13,000-plus homes lost throughout the fire area, not to mention the lives lost in California’s most devastating fire – it’s hard to comprehend that the structures lost double the number of homes in Sun City Lincoln Hills and equal 75 percent of all homes in Lincoln.
According to sources, the Paradise residents have more than they need for immediate clothing and basic necessities. I have no idea what it takes to rebuild the town but this is California. And as Californians, we rebuild!
Richard Pearl is a Lincoln resident and a Rotary Club member.