The television was on and for some reason we all caught wind of the flash alert across the screen. It seems there was a hugh fire going on in the Oakland Hills. The newscasters were talking about mandatory evacuations, and all of a sudden my family's hearts sunk. It was like the world came to a sudden stop. We listened eagerly, trying to hear exactly where the evacuations were.
You see, my grandparents lived up in the Oakland Hills and we were all very concerned about them. Suddenly my phone was a hot line. Calls were going out and coming out. My husband, even though it was out of his district, immediately was called to go to work, and he left to head for the hills! My father was trying to find my grandfather. We were all in shock..........and I can't even remember what happened with my dinner......It was a very strange turn of events for my mother's birthday celebration.
As it turned out, my grandparents were fine, my house didn't catch fire (from not caring about dinner), and my husband was gone for a week working, but came home safe and sound. He worked for the power company and what a mess there was! Being there with the fire still roaring and watching more devastation take place was tough. The clean up and rebuilding afterwards was unbelievable.
My husband took me up there a few weeks after the storm. He had told me how it looked like a bomb had hit and it felt and looked like the middle of a war zone. I feel fortunate to have been able to see this devastation as the news just didn't do it justice. Charred ground everywhere. Houses gone, trees gone, a community gone, lives to rebuild. It was a nightmare. If you have heard of seeing a Weber barbecue being the only thing recognizable, this is true. I saw one and the remains of a brick fireplace, beyond that soot and blackness.
Well, it has been seventeen years ago today that this famous Oakland Hills fire raged and tore peoples lives away. My grandparents were fortunate, but many others weren't. Some people rebuilt there lives in the same location, others left for good. Either way, I still can't imagine how drastically it would have changed their lives.
It seems like yesterday.
Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!