A Week of Turmoil In Southern California

I Love You California by 3 Fish Studios. Fundraising bundle.

The week of November 7 to the 14th is one few people in the state of California and in Ventura County will ever forget.

It’s been an unnerving week where our sense of safety has been shaken.

Like many, I woke to the news of a mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA. This time the tragedy was eighteen miles away. Twelve young people killed. The 307th mass shooting in 2018. (I will spare you the photos).

Another blow descended on Ventura County less than 24 hours after the shooting: the Woolsey and Hill Fires.

A tornado of turmoil has hit this county.

Much of the week I kept busy with the Red Cross and checking in with my sister and brother-in-law whose home was in the line of the wildfires.

Luckily her home was saved, but not her neighbors.

A casualty of Woolsey Fire, Thousand Oaks, CA

Last night, the shock and stress of the past week hit me. I couldn’t stop thinking of the people at Borderline and those directly affected by the fires.

I journaled because the feelings had to go somewhere:

“You were full of hope and laughter, music blared a great dance tune, lights flashed, new faces appeared, familiar ones were greeted. A chorus of friendly voices, the scent of perfume mingled with leather and draft beer. This was a place to relax, have fun, make plans.

The booming crack of gunshots, bullets, stopped the laughter. Some ears recognized the deadly sound. Each bullet shattered a life, safety, hope. Each shot created chaos and turmoil in the state’s safest city. 

Minutes later you, a sergeant, sacrificed your life. Cops run into emergency’s, even in the presence of an active shooter. Twenty-nine years on the force, one year to retirement; to future plans.

The dawn rose over groups of traumatized parents and the loved ones of the men and women inside of Borderline. Later, a couple of miles away from the scene, many of you waited to hear of your children, hoping against hope you’d wouldn’t hear the worse news of your life until you did. 

Stoic police officers gathered in the same area, keeping frantic media away from the families. Soon you wiped away tears as you glimpsed the police motorcade, on the lobby TV, take your fellow officer from the hospital to the coroner’s office.

You couldn’t be with the hundreds of people lining the streets and highways who came to pay their respects because you had a job to carry out.

Meanwhile, your spouses and loved ones stuffed the crushing dread of ‘it could have been my husband, my wife, my son, my daughter,’ down into their ribcage.”

In the midst of this turmoil, the Santa Ana’s, the devil winds, we call them in Southern California blew through our mountains and valleys. Firestorms blew in the south, east, and west of our cities. The winds had no pity as they sucked up brush, trees, cars, animals, homes, and people in their fiery path.

Hundreds of evacuees waited in their cars in supermarket parking lots watching a surge of red-orange flames crest over ridges; slide down hills, wondering if their home was gone and praying it wasn’t.

We choked on smoke as highways closed, flames on both sides. Evacuation shelters opened up in several cities, staffed with Red Cross and other volunteers, taking in the elderly, families, and homeless.

On the sixth day of fires, we still had the smoke.

Smoke filled sky six days after Woolsey Fire began. The palm trees blowing with Santa Ana winds.

Cell towers burned, cable lines melted, the internet went out and some people actually complained.

Today, the seventh day, the Camp Fire still rages. It’s devasted a town, killing 48 people, with 103 still missing.

We all need a good cry.

And now I can’t write anymore.