On August 17th, I was alerted that a lightning strike had started a fire in the vicinity of my home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Soon after, I was told to start my evacuation plans. Due to the low humidity and a record-setting heatwave in the area, the fire exploded into a monstrous, growing 78,000-acre fire. To make things worse firefighting resources are limited due to the sheer number of fires currently in California. As a native to the Santa Cruz Mountains (born and raised), my heart broke when I saw the flames engulf my neighborhood with over 200 feet high flames and smoke so thick I could hardly see.
I, my husband, Beau, and our dog, Oso, were evacuated, leaving behind our redwood home lovingly purchased only a couple of years ago. My immediate family members, those I care more about than anyone in the world, have also been displaced: my dad, Mike Ellison (co-founder of Santa Cruz CORE), mom, grandmother (age 93), sister (co-owner of Santa Cruz CORE), brother-in-law, and niece (age 5). Thankfully they are all evacuated safely, but it makes it hard when the people who would have normally opened their home to you in a crisis are in the same situation.
Last Sunday we drove up to the barricade and delivered supplies to Donald Rossini who was volunteering to do spot checks and making sure people were not still there. The mountain spirit continues to be strong and no new structure fires were reported to have burned. I have continued to stay busy. Doing this helps me to not think too much about the fact we are not going to be living at home for the next year. Being of service helps me to get outside myself and see that there are many more who are in need of help in worse situations. I spoke with someone today and said “When this all slows down, get ready for the tears.” This is emotional. This is challenging. And yet, I am continuously inspired by my community, Bonny Doon is the place where I want to be
Although my house has been spared, for the time being, the mountain is currently uninhabitable. Those of us who’s homes were spared don’t know when we will be able to return due to conditions such as land erosion, decimated power lines, empty wells, and damaged infrastructure.
We will rebuild, but it isn’t going to be easy or quick. I read somewhere that our community chose the beauty of nature over convenience. Home is everything to us, and we will overcome this because family and community are what matters most.
We are setting up a special fund to support Bonny Doon families and businesses. This is a fluid situation and currently, the money is going to residents of Bonny Doon to save their homes by buying generators, pumps, respirators, gloves, hoses, and chainsaws. If you want to help, please donate here or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what resources or funding you have available and how you can help. To give funding that will go straight to immediate contributions for efforts happening on the mountain right now, please Venmo @Jaimi Jansen or call Santa Cruz Core at 831.425.9500 and tell them you want to donate to the Bonny Doon Family Fund.
People have been very generous with their donations this week. There are a lot of efforts going on simultaneously, and it is incredible to watch the community come together. Our fundraising focus is on saving Bonny Doon. The money donated is going directly to the Bonny Doon community. Please continue to contribute and spread the word in any way you can.
So we have asked you for help, how can we help you? California has recently been declared a federal disaster area, which means those who are not insured or need funds to secure a place to live can now access funds through FEMA. As a business owner & coach (and because of COVID), I’m already an expert on all things insurance & loan-related—especially in circumstances such as these. During COVID I helped over 200 (mostly local) businesses secure over $17 million in funding. If you’re in trouble because of the fires, I can help you get the money you need in this situation too. Just say the word.
Additionally, CORE will be offering donation-based services to all impacted by the fire. If you or someone is resident of Bonny Doon let us know at 831.425.9500 and we will offer you a service at a pay whatever you can price, no one will be turned away. We offer everything from oxygen therapy for smoke inhalation to massage for strained muscles in pain from lifting and overexertion in an evacuation—and many more services. Visit santacruzcore.com for a full list of services. We’re here to help and we will not stop until our community is whole again.
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