By Carmela Burke, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
Valley Fire evacuees John and Patricia Cappa have decided to make the best of their camp accommodations. As the fire was approaching, Patricia saw it out her window as her neighbors came to her house and started knocking on her door. John, who comes from a fireman’s family, had these thoughts running through his mind: meds, dog, gone!
When the “Valley Fire” broke out on September 12, the Cappas drove from their home to Middletown High School. “We watched the flames come over the hill to Cobb then down to Middletown,” said Patricia.
The fire inched toward the towns of Middletown, Cobb and more, eventually engulfing both Lake and Napa counties. The couple fled the high school and went to Twin Pine to take cover. When the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga opened its doors to evacuees, they spent the night there. John and Patricia were able to stay with friends for a few nights, and they are now back at the campgrounds.
The Cappas live in the Lake County city of Cobb. They know their house is “still standing”, but they are waiting for local officials to announce when residents of Cobb can return home. “We are fortunate we still have a place to go home to,” said John. They have lived there since 2000.
After all residents are able to return, John has a plan to “pay it forward” along with other members of his local Mountain Lions Club. With the large amounts of donated goods that have been dropped off at the campgrounds, he hopes to be able to work with local contacts to redistribute items to residents displaced by the Valley Fire.
As the Cappas continued to recount their story, John became emotional saying, “Everybody is excellent. Kudos to your crew.”
John and Patricia are just beginning their road to recovery, and the American Red Cross will continue to help them and everyone affected by the disaster. The uncertainty of whether residents will have homes to return to makes this a frustrating and emotionally draining time for everyone involved. It is for this reason that Red Cross mental health volunteers are available to be a shoulder to lean on, listen, and help. Health services workers are also available to replace prescription medicines and provide other support.
In some areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, the Red Cross is distributing food and relief supplies as people begin to return home. The Red Cross is also beginning to meet with individuals to help them plan their next steps and connect them with a variety of resources.
In Middletown, there are Red Cross Local Assistance Centers at the Middletown Senior Center (21256 Washington Street), and the Middletown Community Methodist Church (15833 Armstrong Street). The Information Hotline for the California Wildfires is 855-224-2490.