Wildfire Creates Host of Hairy Situations for Evacuees

While a large number of fellow San Diegans were packing
their lives into their cars and preparing for the drive to Qualcomm Stadium, I
was busy discovering a whole new definition of awkward. Knocked out by a nasty
flu, I spent a day and a half sandwiched on the couch between my
still-technically-married-but-not-for-long parents, who, along with my two
teenage brothers and two dogs, were evacuated from our Carmel Valley
home Tuesday evening.

Though my two-bedroom apartment near UCSD was safely out of
any fire zones, it was not particularly equipped to hold seven stressed-out,
sleep-deprived people with a long history of gripes and grudges. In between
apologizing to my roommate and trying to keep two nervous golden retrievers
from alerting our landlady to the “no pets” rule violation, I had little time
to contemplate the white elephant in the room: If the Witch Creek fire made it
to the coast, our family home would be lost.

I’ve lived in San Diego my whole life, and although 2003’s
Cedar Fires were catastrophic in nature, they never got close enough to char my
bubble of safety. This time, however, it got to me. Maybe the situation was
exacerbated by the circumstances of my illness and the shouting matches between
my parents, but for the first time in my sheltered 21 years — I feared for my
family’s safety and well-being. Until you’ve experienced it, there’s really no
way to explain how vulnerable it makes you feel.

I can now look back on the events of four years ago as more
than just a week of dark orange skies and raining ash. When all the Cedar Fires
meant to me was seven days of no classes and frequent asthma attacks, I didn’t
have to think about the “What ifs.” My family was there with me, convincing me
that everything was going to be fine and I had no real cause for alarm.

I guess family roles change as you grow older.

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