“I didn’t want to leave.” When Bruce Silverstein and his wife Mindy’s home was spared during Woolsey, he began volunteering at a clothing drive to help Malibu.
ike many other residents, my wife Mindy and I evacuated. I didn’t want to leave but Mindy was too panicked to stay, so I agreed to evacuate. We ended up in hotel in Hollywood, where we stayed for the next six days, along with many other “refugees” from Malibu and their various pets. The first 24 hours following the evacuation where the most difficult. During that time, I received text after text about different friends who lost everything. The
morning after the evacuation ended, I began volunteering at a local church where clothing had been collected for members of the community whose homes had burned. Since then I have been volunteering just about every day at another relief center that opened at the Country Mart. I have also spent a fair amount of time on social media, posting messages that I am hoping may have some helpful impact on the relief, recovery and rebuilding effort. Volunteering at the relief center is as much a matter of holding people’s hands, letting someone cry on
my shoulder, and listening to people talk about their experience with the fire and their trauma. It also involved a compassionate effort to make sure people are comfortable receiving the aid available to them. We live in a community of proud people, who are accustomed to “giving” and are very uncomfortable “receiving”. If there is a silver lining it is that the community is coming together like never before. I am hopeful that we may one day be able to look back at the fire as a catalyst for positive change, and not as a force of MM destruction.
“There was no way out.” An 11-year LA resident, Melissa Curtin knew to pay attention to the Santa Anas. However, she never expected what would transpire.
fter 11 years living in LA, I know to pay attention to the Santa Anas. But I never expected the fires to make their way to Malibu. The evacuation text came in around 9:20 a.m. My husband and I live on the hill just across from Carbon Beach and he had been through this several times. At 9:30 a.m., we hopped on to bikes with our neighbors and made our way down to Cross Creek Plaza. We watched as planes
circled the mountains, dropping red retardant. We saw 4 fire trucks drive by. We wouldn’t see any others that day. When we arrived back at the house, things became tense. Only then did I realize that my husband didn’t want to leave, and why: there was no way out. Traffic was at a dead stop on PCH. I contemplated lugging our paddleboards across the street in case we had no other options but to paddle out. By 2 p.m. I was prepared to leave without him. At the last second, he relented. Minutes later, my car joined the thousands of oth-
ers in the traffic jam on PCH. All around me were the frightened eyes of animals – goats, horses – they looked as terrified as I felt, packed in their mini trailers. In Santa Monica, my husband and I were so sick and stressed we didn’t sleep for a week, only finding current information on the Malibu Locals Facebook group. After the fire, I helped my neighbor set up the Malibu Recovery Project “Free Store”. All around me I’ve seen people helping one another, and like the quote, “The love in MM the air is thicker than the smoke.”
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