We have returned. Our town is not damaged. And we have a great many men and women to thank for that. “Thank You” and “Welcome Home” signs are going up all over town. More than one person has told me those signs brought tears to their eyes.
So now we swap our evacuation stories, our lessons learned. I joined the Pine Strollers (an informal hiking group) for lunch on Monday. There were 12 of us. Every Monday this motivated bunch goes for a hike. Well not today. The forest is closed and most have just settled in at home.
So over good food, evacuation war stories were shared, some dry camped, some stayed with family. Some went to Phoenix, Flagstaff and Payson.
“The” Friday night was talked about. Where were you? Who did you leave with? Moments of laughter, shared experiences and genuine care floated all around.
“I had a hard time deciding what to take,” said Dale Bellisfield. “I have a houseful of stuff that is important to me.”
Her thought was echoed among the group and about the town. I took this, but left that. As I go about town, I am met with the same conversations. One person laughing over forgetting a hair dryer. Another near tears as she now pets the cat she couldn’t catch and had to leave behind.
Many have shared their thoughts and thanks on Facebook. At our lunch I heard those thanks. The thanks for the people who did a little, but to an evacuee it felt like a lot.
“As I see all the posts our community has left thanking our firefighters, first responders, sheriff’s office etc., I feel like my gratitude will be shuffled under the rug ... not only were these heroes on the front line, but so many “little” people also got us all through this. New friends, strangers, angels showed up all over. I am so proud to be a part of our fabulous community. I met people who will now always be a part of my life and look forward to the future. We are truly #pinestrawberrystrong ... love and peace to you all,” said Pine-Strawberry evacuee, Dawn Frank on Facebook.
We proved to have more backbone than this fire. We are a strong community who will continue to care for each other.