Northern California has been united in tragedy this past week. But it has also been united in something else perhaps bigger than tragedy – acts of grace. Holly Hubbard Preston has this Perspective.
On Monday morning I woke up in our Napa Valley home to an ash-filled sky and sirens ringing out from every direction. The power was out as was our cell service, hot water and cable-based landline.
Tuesday afternoon, the power came back as did most other services. This proved bittersweet. While able to reach worried family members, our renewed connectivity availed us to a steady stream of grim news.
Several friends lost homes and almost their lives. Other lost jobs, businesses and schools. A former teammate of my son’s was missing. A friend of my daughter’s stopped by in tears explaining the winery where both her parents worked had burned to the ground, leaving her prospects for college in question.
While our family home in St. Helena was so far safe, alerts from local authorities warned us to be ready to evacuate on short notice.
As I walked through the house yesterday, packing a suitcase full of keepsakes, the mounting losses of neighbors and friends stuck with me. The more inventory I took of our home, the wider my scope of sympathies stretched. Images of disaster victims flooded my brain-not only in Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties but also Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Wild fires, like hurricanes and earthquakes, are indiscriminate destroyers. The fires rampaging through our region have burned through mobile parks, homeless camps and million dollars homes alike.
If there’s any good to come out of this devastation, it’s the way everyone is working together without concern for class, status or politics. Neighbors look out for neighbors, yes, but also compete strangers, too. Fire fighters and first responders from everywhere battle selflessly on our front lines. Volunteers at shelters hand out clothing and toiletries while local businesses give away free food, ice, and face masks.
Everywhere I look around our scorched valley, I see acts of grace that give me hope for America, at large. We are better than the rancor and division that has defined us the last many months. This proves it.
With a Perspective, I’m Holly Hubbard Preston.
Holly Hubbard Preston writes essays and fiction from her home in St. Helena.