Saturday, November 08, 2003

Aftermath of Fires

I have to share some true stories of compassion. It's amazing that it takes a tradegy like this to bring out the good inside of us. But when it happens - Wow.

On Monday an unidentified man and woman came through and handed bags to those filtering through the remains. In each bag was 2 hand towels, soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste, diapers for those with small children and $20 cash.

On Tuesday a man and woman drove through the neighborhoods. At each house they came to they spoke with what owners were there. After a brief discussion of expressing their sympathy they handed each home-owner a $100 dollar bill.

On Wednesday my folks are standing outside talking to their neighbors who lost their home. Two big Ford Expeditions show up with about 15 guys ranging from 17-23 years of age pile out. An older man who was driving walks up and asks who the owners of this burnt house are. Doug and Darla reply quietly reply that they are the owners. He informs them "These boys are missionaries. We are from the Mormon Church. We will be helping you dig and recover what you can." These boys, all wearing blue jeans, white t-shirts and white shoes began to slowly filter through the rubble. They gently washed items they thought might be of importantance. They brought in a small, very mini, back-hoe to help lift heavy pieces of walls and pipes. They created a small pile, too small sadly enough, of items that were recovered. They then moved onto the next house. Not one of the boys was joking or laughing. They treated this task they were assigned with quiet dignity and reverance.

Also on Wednesday the city of San Bernardino went into action. At 9:00am a rumbling was heard, and those who had survived the horror of the fires thought a earthquake was coming. One man ran outside to find truck and after truck after truck coming into the neighborhoods. At each house they left a large dumpster. By 11:00 am the SCE (Southern California Edison, power) was bringing in new electrical/telephone poles. Many were installed by the end of the day.

Thursday, our jail system which has a program in which minor offenders must do community service for their sentence, set up hundreds to go out on clean up details. As they were up near my folks house I was out in the yard hosing some bushes down and heard one man comment "This is the best detail I've done. I feel proud of something in the first time in my life."