September 7, 2011

Grateful

Central Texas has been overwhelmed by wildfires this Labor Day weekend.  High winds (which have thankfully subsided) and dry conditions fuel the fires and they continue their relentless march into many areas.  Thousands of acres and hundreds of homes have been destroyed.




Our neighborhood of 4,000 homes was evacuated Sunday.  We were thankfully able to return home Tuesday afternoon.  Dozens of homes were burned to the ground.   Our communal heart aches for those who have suffered losses in this fire.  As I type the burning smell lingers in the air, helicopters still fly overhead searching for hot spots, fire fighters douse them, churches, local businesses and community members rally to provide support, encouragement and basic necessities to those in need and prayers are being lifted up.




But mostly what I sense in the community is an immense swell of gratitude and disbelief that more homes were not taken by the blaze.  Of the 4,000 homes, 24 were destroyed and 30 were damaged.

Our community is so thankful to the fire personnel and emergency workers who risked their lives to come into our neighborhood and fight the fires.   The high winds threatened to bring the fire right up the greenbelt toward our home.  When we evacuated Sunday, the greenbelt behind our home was filled with smoke and the smoke was beginning to enter the house.  I honestly thought I would never see our home again and I said goodbye as I pulled out of the drive way.  We had our people and our dog and that was all that mattered. 

And it is still all that matters.  We return home to a community that is stronger and closer than ever.  We will help our friends and neighbors rebuild what they have lost.  And we will move forward with hearts filled with gratitude and humility.

This is a direct quote (with street name removed) from a dear, sweet friend who lost her home.  How can you not feel blessed and humbled with friends like these?
Suffered a lot of losses this year, but gained so much in friendships and love from so many. Thank you all for that Surrealism will be replaced by realism tomorrow morning as we enter Xxxxx Xx. As bad as it may feel, it's definitely not the worst I've experienced and we have to keep that perspective. Prayers to everyone else who experienced loss in the fires. We're all in this together...shall we dance? 
 

Heartfelt thanks to the family who hosted us while evacuated.  You are so loved.

Update:  September 9, 2011 - The Austin Statesman is reporting today that 3 houses were damaged in the fire instead of 30!  Such great news.   The fire is 80% contained with a reported 162 acres burned.   

Our neighbors in Bastrop to the southeast did not fare so well.   The estimate of destroyed homes is 1,386 and the death toll remains at two.  The fire is 30% contained and has burned 35,000 acres. 

37 comments:

  1. As we are still trying to recover from too much water and flooding in New England (and it has been raining buckets this week too), I read this moving post about the opposite conditions, so dry and hot and literally burning up. The world is coming undone it seems, yet people here and in your state are amazingly resilient.

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  2. Cat, I have been thinking of you and your family since learning about the fires. My daughter-in-law has family in the area and they were also evacuated. I think they were allowed to go home Tuesday.
    How heart wrenching it must have been to leave your home thinking you would never see it again - I am so glad that you were able to go home. Our hearts and prayers are with all of you.

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  3. Cat I'm so glad you are safe I have been thinking of you as the quilt list said about the fires and how bad they were, people leaving their homes in parts of Texas because of the fires,
    I think when communities face a danger together they can only become stronger as the truely important things take the fore and the rest is forgotten, take care, Frances

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  4. I am sooooooo relieved to hear you're all OK! Your post still made my eyes all watery as I feel with those who have lost their homes. Your friend who you quoted is so unbelievably strong. I wish I was like that! Can't wait to see you all AND the house in December!

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  5. We can smell the smoke in the air all the way up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. So glad you are safe. Certainly this news puts my dry little garden and a few crispy plants in perspective. Trusting God causes all things, even tragedy and difficulties and losses, to work together for the good of His people who love Him. Praying He will use you to be an encouragement to those around you. Take care...

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  6. I am so glad to hear that you, your family, and your home are all well. Your community is a very special one for finding what is important through such tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your community.

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  7. So glad you are safe. It must be terrible to see neighbors who have lost everything. The fire department did a wonderful job in preventing the loss of many more homes.

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  8. What a scare! How emotional it must have been to leave everything behind. I'm so glad you, your family, and your home are o.k. It is heartbreaking for the many throughout Texas that have lost their homes. The firefighters are truly heroic. The problem is that this is not over. The conditions are still ripe to set off more fires. I hope all of Texas gets its much needed rain soon.

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  9. Gosh, I've been reading about the fires in the paper without realizing this was happening in your backyard. How terrifying! I wish I could share some of our rain. My thoughts are with you and your neighbors.

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  10. My heart goes out to the many people who lost everything they own.

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  11. I'm glad everything worked out for the best. I see where a lot of the pine forest near bastrop is burning. Sad for those people who live there also. I'm sure the juniper trees were exploding during the flames, much like the fires in Oklahoma.

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  12. That first pic is beautiful and tragic. We always said that during the Aspen fire. At night, our mountain would be on fire and it was beautiful, but it also saddened us by tragedy it left behind. Homes can be rebuilt and it sounds like your community will be there for thos 40 some homes lost or affected....and that's great. There's nothing like a community coming together to help out. Thanks for uptodate news.

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  13. I am so glad to see you post. I have been checking in and was starting to worry. I don't know the geography of the area or where you are but reading the news and knowing you are in the Austin area and not seeing any posts by you was concerning. Prayers for your friend and for all who are dealing with the effects of the fires.

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  14. Yes Laurrie, incredibly resilient. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope you guys dry out.

    Thank you Ginny. So glad to hear your family here in Austin is safe too. Your prayers are so appreciated - many thanks.

    It's been a beautiful thing Frances to witness our community coming together. Simple beauty in a tragic time.

    Sandra, she is incredibly strong, especially in her faith and I really admire that about her. She is an amazing testimony. Can't wait to see you here in December ;)

    Thanks Toni...In all things, we will praise Him. God is good.

    Thank you for your prayers Sage Butterfly. They are cherished.

    Jenny, thanks. I couldn't agree more...they are true heroes.

    HolleyGarden, I'm afraid you're right...the conditions are still favorable for more fires. In fact my husband was out this evening and saw another fire in the neighborhood. They are still springing up. The helicopters are flying over regularly and the firetrucks haven't stopped. They are tireless. Thank God.

    Thank you Sarah...please send it our way ;)

    Mine too Rambling Wren...just too much loss.

    Thanks Greggo...please keep Texas in your prayers...we need them. I didn't see any junipers explode...and all the junipers saw was my taillights!

    Rohrerbot, we had 3 minutes to get out of the house...I grabbed the dog, my camera and lenses, my wedding ring, sunscreen (go figure) and my son's guitar. The shot of the sunset and smoke was taken from the neighborhood we stayed in that sits across the canyon. It was so eerie watching our neighborhood burn.

    Awww, thanks Mac. The big fires in Bastrop are SE of us. We are on the northwest side of town. It seems it was the perfect storm Sunday for wildfires. They just blew up all over the city. Bastrop is still burning. Thank you so much for your concern and your prayers. I love our blogging community ;)

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  15. I'm so glad your home was spared, Catherine. I too feel for your neighbors who were not so fortunate. And all those in Bastrop too -- such loss. But it's times like these that bring people together.

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  16. Cat, I didn't realize the fires were so close to you. So glad that you and your family and friends are safe! We lived in Belterra which is also not far away and have been thinking of my former friends and neighbors there too. My thoughts will continue to be with y'all. You have had such a tough summer and I hope it improves very soon!

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  17. So happy that you are all safe and that your home and gardens survived, Cat. My heart felt prayers in your behalf as well as for those who didn't fare so well.

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  18. Cat, I was wondering if the fires were near you. What a wrenching few days it must have been ... It's inspiring to hear you finding so much to be grateful for in the experience. I hope Texas gets some rain soon!

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  19. Hi Cat, I was thinking about you when I heard the news about the wild fires in Texas and hoped that you and your family were safe. My sympathies go out to all those who experienced loss.

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  20. oh goodness Cat, I had wondered with the fires and you hadn't been at the computer. What a stressful time for you and your neighbours. How optimistic that quote is, hard to believe she's lost her home. An example for us all going through hard times to keep our chin up.

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  21. Cat, I'm glad your family and your house are safe.

    That last photo pops! It is overflowing with love...

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  22. Oh no, Cat. I'm so late learning about this. I haven't been keeping up with the news so much so I had no idea. So glad though to hear that you and your loved ones are home safe just as I am saddened to hear about others' losses. We will keep all of you in our prayers.

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  23. Thank you all for your concern and prayers. They are much needed. Just learned this morning that over 1,300 homes have been burned in Bastrop alone. The fire down there is still not 100% contained.

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  24. So glad you and your family are ok. It is sad that so many have lost their homes.
    Our son lives close to the Hamilton Pool fire, and had to evacuate for a while. They're safe for now, thankfully. They lost a home to fire a few years back, so they know how painful it is.
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to your neighbors and all those hundreds of others. And, to the brave firefighters who are fighting this monster.
    Let's hope this ends soon.
    Stay safe...

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  25. I didn't realize you were so close to the fires, but was still worried. I am so glad you are safe and sound. Gardens can be replaced but family can't. I've been praying for TX all summer and will continue to keep you in my daily prayers.

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  26. I have been praying for you folks in the Austin area. Drove through yesterday morning and the smoke was fierce. So happy you and yours are ok. Maybe "Nate" out in the gulf will answer some prayers.

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  27. So sorry you were displaced, Cat, but I'm glad to hear you didn't have any damage or injury from the fire. I know the bittersweet feeling of being thankful at the same time neighbors suffer losses. In our case, we've had several encounters with tornadoes that left our property unscathed but wiped out others. It's comforting, though, to know that the community is there for support. Take care!

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  28. These fires are so awful in every summer all over there and in Europe. Last summer fires were so big in Russia that the smoke even come to Finland. I'm so sorry for all the people who lost they home.
    The first picture is so beautiful even we know the tragedy behind it and the flower shot is amazing. I hope all the best to you and all people in the community:)

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  29. Cat, I can't even begin to imagine what it has been like watching the fires devour huge chunks of ground, swallowing houses. I am so glad that you still have your home, and are in a position to help others rather than needing their help in this latest dance. Stay safe.

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  30. Cat, I am so sorry that you have had to go through this and glad that you and your family are safe and sound at home again. Take care and know that here in South Africa there are people thinking of you xxx

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  31. So sorry about the fires it must be devastating. but loving your photos you really have a great sensitivity to plants, and form;~)

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  32. Just found your blog. Thoughtful and beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

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  33. I've been evacuated because of flood (at 1 AM - that was no fun), but thankfully never for fire. This time of year though we're always twitchy during wildfire season. Even the smell of a BBQ being lit makes me jumpy. I can't imagine going through all this, but I'm glad you're safe. We lost of a lot 'stuff' when we flooded, but as you say, if you have your pets, and your family, none of the rest of it matters. I'm really hoping for everyone's sake that Texas gets some good rain soon. The firefighters could use all the help they can get!

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  34. Three minutes. That focuses the mind. Grateful you are safe, and praying for gentle soaking rain ...

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  35. i've been thinking of you and your family. so glad you are okay. it's very frightening and surreal. we have had urban fires in laguna beach and orange county and know that awful smell of smoke and ash and the horror of flames in the distance. it is amazing, though, how tragedies such as this pull communities together!

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  36. Dear Cat, so often I have thought of you and other blogging friends in Texas as I read reports of the terrible drought and wildfires. I am glad you are safe. I am praying that soon you all will have much needed rain.

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  37. Thinking of you from Australia, just coming into our warmer time of year and your post reminded me of the things to come. We evacuate every time we get high fire danger days as we live in very fire prone country and a fire could be on our doorstep very quickly. Hope you get some wet weather soon.

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

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