Sitting in an American Red Cross Shelter three long days after a fast-moving wildfire forced them to flee their Santa Rosa mobile home, Luana Cobb and her son Daniel were slowly coming to grips with their new reality on a Wednesday in mid-October.
"I came into this world with nothing, Luana, 83, said quietly, sitting in the Red Cross shelter at Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa. "Now I have nothing again. Everything has been destroyed."
The mother and son's home literally melted when flames overtook the Coddingtown Mobile Home Park shortly after 2 a.m. on Monday morning, October 9. "It was like a dream," Luana added. "And then you wake up and discover it's a real nightmare."
Daniel, 60, said one of the dozen or so wildfires burning in Northern California — he wasn't sure which one — literally melted his and his mother's home. "Seventeen of us had homes there right in a row," Daniel says. "All 17 are gone now."
After driving around in the early morning hours that Monday, the couple decided they needed Red Cross help. "We finally came to this shelter Monday morning," Daniel said. "We couldn't find any place to eat."
While their lives had suddenly become defined by questions — how long would they need to be in a shelter; how soon would they have their home's insurance money; would it be enough to replace their home — the Cobbs didn't hesitate to extend heartfelt appreciation for the support they had received at one of the five shelters the Red Cross has established in just Sonoma County in response to the horrific fires that have devastated this part of Northern California.
"The Red Cross has been wonderful," Luana said. "The shelter is clean, and we are getting three meals a day. We have nowhere else to go right now."
Luana also needed help with prescriptions, as she fled her home without getting two heart medicines she takes. "They helped me get those prescriptions filled here. I was really surprised."
In the hours and days after fleeing their home, Luana said she and her son had been in touch with family members elsewhere, assuring them that they are okay. "My cousin up in Chico said she is going to make a donation to the Red Cross because of how they have helped us."
• For more information about Red Cross support during these fires, please go to this web site.
• For photos of Red Cross support, please go to this Flickr site.