It was evident within days of the firestorm that destroyed our community that living in Santa Rosa was no longer an option. The issue of affordable housing had already been a factor in the region, and with multiple disasters hitting the U.S. in September and October, a sudden shortage of new construction materials would mean higher prices and longer waits. Compound that problem with the necessity of City and County reorganizing and rethinking how best to rebuild, and now you’re talking years before we can return to Santa Rosa. Our decisions had to be made immediately and would impact the rest of our lives. For me and my husband, it made sense to return to SoCal.
We are fortunate in that I can work anywhere via internet and my husband can find work in any major city. At first we considered San Diego because my husband’s son lives there and we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation in that sunny, breezy, beach city. The other idea was to invest in a condo near California State University in Long Beach because my son is transferring there in 2018, and since I promised to help him through college, this was the most practical location. It was with some trepidation, however, that on October 23rd we signed a contract with our future and opened a 30-day escrow period; tomorrow we sign loan documents to seal the deal, and on Wednesday we will have the keys.
This year on the fourth Thursday of November, we will begin moving into the top/front unit in the building shown above–the one with the beautiful arched window over the balcony. Donations from co-workers, friends and family combined with a partial insurance payout buffered most of the loss, and pulling a chunk out of retirement savings made our Thanksgiving home possible.
Our joy is mixed with sorrow, however, while my husband’s Mom remains in dire straits. Her insurance policy did not cover the full cost to move the mobile home, she still owes $19,000 to the bank, and reports of looting in our neighborhood have kept her on edge. She has been very sick for two weeks, and has been staying in hotels or with friends for six weeks. We hope she can sell her home soon and start over in a city near us that has affordable homes for retirees.
It has been a daunting post-traumatic period, cushioned by many acts of kindness and friendship. Throughout this epic loss, the blessings of living in a civilized country have kept us from sinking into poverty and despair. The firestorm would have incinerated the entire region were it not for thousands of brave people and the advantages of technology pushing back the flames. We are most thankful that my husband awoke when he did, that our lives were spared, and that we did not lose everything. ♥