“I got up that morning at 8:30 and looked outside and it was pitch black,” said Jean Bauman, a retiree who lived in Paradise, California. “I went back into the bedroom and I said to my husband Jim, ‘You’ve got to get out of bed.'”
At first, Jim and Jean were hoping the Camp Fire would be contained before reaching their small home. What they didn’t know was that the raging inferno was devouring an entire football field of land every second.
IT WAS TOO LATE
An hour later, fiery chunks of debris were pelting the couple’s home. When it was all over, they were left with nothing but their brick chimney and charred sludge and debris. “We lost fifty years of everything in that house,” Jean said. “It’s numbing.” The couple is now navigating insurance to begin rebuilding their house and their lives.
Help has arrived in the form of weekly food distributions, bolstered by weekly deliveries from Bay Area food banks that have been providing tons (literally) of fresh groceries every week.
“We had a suspicion that once things settled down in Paradise, that the community was going to need some food assistance,” said Barbara Abbott, Food Resources Director at the Food Bank. “The call eventually came in December, and we have been sending full truckloads of fresh produce, protein, beverages and snacks ever since.”
THANKFUL FOR FULL BELLIES
The food assistance is starting to make a difference, helping people like Martin and Ashley feed themselves, as well as their two young children, Lilliana and Rylee.
Martin moved his family from Kansas to Paradise to help with his ailing mother after she recently suffered a stroke. And while the family didn’t lose any property in the fire, they did lose stability. Martin was due to start a logging job the day the Camp Fire started. Logging jobs have since dried up and now the family finds itself visiting the food distribution site in nearby Chico to help provide nourishment until things get better.
“The food got us through,” Ashley said. “It’s been filling in the gaps.”
While Martin hasn’t found a job yet, he’s still searching every day and he’s confident he’ll find something soon. “It’s a lot easier to go to sleep and focus on finding a job when you know your kids aren’t hungry,” he said. “We’re thankful for having full bellies.”