Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reading the past....Sockeye Fire....

Funny how things change but stay the same! Spent the last 45 or so minutes "Reading the past". I kick myself for not continuing writing this blog, so much has happened. So much. Am happy to say, almost none of it is bad and the majority could be tossed into the "definitely not a bad thing" bucket.
The one that I'm not totally sure where it lands is the Sockeye Fire in Willow. It occured June of last year, infact it was less that 48 hours after I arrived in St.Louis for two week vacation, needless to say, it was ruined. The way i learned about it was via a Facebook message from a friend who lives roughly 25 miles south of me. She didnt realize i wasnt in Alaska at the time when she sent me the message "hey, i see LOTS of smoke up your direction, are you safe?" Naturally that promted a search to find out what was going on. Found on one of my Facebook groups where someone had mentioned a fairly decent size fire on the north end of Willow. By this time, my parents were home and I told them what was going on. In the 30 minor so that I saw things "blooming" on the group, the fire had grown from an estimated 5 acres to almost 100 in less than 30 minutes. Dad pulled up a scanner app to where we could hear the Willow Fire Department, the State Forestry Department  and then the Mat-Su Borough disaster teams calling for more backup,  first call to all stations in the borough, roughly 30 minutes later (the previously called units from Wasilla & Talkeetna were either just arriving or still hadn't made due to distance) the call went out for all available units from Eagle River and Anchorage (keep in mind, the south end of Anchorage is about 100 miles from the northern end of Willow). It was amazingly scarey as to how quickly the fire grew. To see posts and hear over the emergency radio acres burned: 100, 250, 750, then 1,200 acres in what seemed to be mere moments but was only an hour or so.
By this time I am getting slammed on Facebook messenger from friends all over the valley and Anchorage. A number of former coworkers were going to round up their friends and go break down the door to my house to save all my stuff. An awesome friend, Carey, messaged me telling me that she and her husband were hooking up their trailer and was getting ready to head for my house. As greatful as I am for everyone that volunteered to "safe my stuff", I really only wanted a handfull of things. My quilts, one of which I had made the top and my grandmother (who had recently passed) had hand quilted. All my native crafts that I had collected (seal, baleen, ivory, etc). My butterfly collection and my essential oils (yes, have gotten into oils and yes, I know they do indeed work, but that is another post one of these days) and art work of mine and two other friends. But it was not to be, by the time Carey and her husband made the drive from their house to mine, the road block and evacuation area had grown to include my house and they could no longer get to it. It was also about this time that the MatSu Borough Incident Management team had worked their way through all their levels (each time they changed, explained to my parents what each change ment) and then handed off to the Fed's and this was when all radio communication that could be heard on our apps stopped. Now my only means of news about the fire was via Facebook community/group pages, I always wondered if I could take the information on these pages for face value since what was being posted is basically hearsay. I did visit the Borough Facebook page, the Alaska Division of Forestry and some other government agencies for more reliable information. For the next 24 hours, updates were very close to occuring regular intervals. As much as loved the fire maps, they also brought me great anxiety, was afraid that at one point my house would be on the inside of that ring.
I remember at one point, standing in my bedroom at my parent's home, staring at the one lone suitcase I had brought with me, and Paco playing nearby. I haven't a clue how long I was standing a staring, but it hit me pretty hard, the realization that at that very moment there was a very strong possibility that I was looking at the possessions I owned and that everything else was nothing but ash. Well, except for my cast iron, which I silently hoped I would just need to reseason and not replace.
About 2 am, StLouis time, I finally accepted the fact that my place may burn. Since I couldn't sleep, I sat down with a note pad and put headers on each page: Kitchen, Livingroom, Master Bedroom, Little Bedroom, Bathroom, Pantry.
Then I would mentally go from room to room doing inventory.  At the time, it felt cathartic, at this moment, I realize it was not. It did help with the anxiety I was having at that time, but accepting an outcome you don't want to happened  that hasn't happened yet, does. I thing it was close to 4 or 5 am that I just decided, "if it burns, it burns. I can cry over the unreplaceable item, but at lease Paco and I are safe". Didn't sleep the next night either, had been a very long time since I had gone more than 48 hours without sleep, the following night, I fell asleep around 5 pm. Do remember waking around 2 am and being awake for 2 or three hours, then slept till almost noon.
When I was returning back to Alaska, I was lucky enough that they lifted the evacuation the day I arrived back home. When I got home, the house smelled like an old fireplace, and I can still smell it from time to time. Excuse to get rid of the couch?
Here we are, nearly 6 weeks away from the anniversary of the fire and I think I have figured out why I have been having issues with insomnia. Praying that it doesn't get worse as the date gets closer. Well, at least I know have a job where  have good insurance, not to mention I am working in a clinic and see a MD every day😜. Will have to bring this up to her at some point and see what she has to say. I do know, I am SO looking forward to this hike/walk to Wainwright in July.....see,so many things have changed but are the same....I'm nuts, the rate I am going, I'll have papers to prove it.....I am planning a hiking trip through the North Slope tundra to one of our closest neighbors...90 miles away.

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