My heart is very, very heavy ongoingly today, ever since I discovered almost by chance late on Thursday evening UK time, that my second home of Redding was about to be engulfed by a raging California wildfire.
I was surprised to not see any further posts on social media from folks I knew had connections there also. It appears I was one of the first to realize how gut wrenchingly AWFUL this thing was about to be.
Last week when I posted an idyllic photo of a cow and her calf in County Antrim, I had no knowledge at all of what I might make my next post to be.
Its been a shocking, sad two days seeing and hearing tiny snippets of the horrific almost apocalyptic scenes of my former city of residence.
There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t think of it any way, so these past two days, my heart has been entirely back there, with my friends and much loved folks who are shockingly caught up in the midst of yet another natural disaster/ ‘act of God’ type crazy situation on our groaning planet earth.
It started as a result of the mechanical failure of a vehicle on Monday, at Whiskeytown Lake area.
All of a sudden by Friday, a fire 3 times the size was threatening the entire 95,000 strong city.
On Thursday night /Friday a.m I got a text from a close friend in Redding saying they’d been officially told to evacuate. I was also told our apartment where I lived until May was in the line of fire and expected to go up in flames. Crazy.
That night I stayed up late to pray and intercede for Redding, and many individuals there. ( I’ve told you before I’m a great believer in power of prayer – or rather the God behind the power in prayer). Relationship brings authority.
I did the same again last night.
It’s difficult to get exact reports and fully accurate details at present of specific places in the relatively (in European terms) sprawling city of Redding. But so far the crisis response map I’ve been looking at showed our street – the street I called ‘home’ until very recently, was not yet burned.
We continue to keep praying – along with many others across the globe – and hope for the best, from even as far afield as Northern Ireland, but reality is, many, many, many people will have lost their homes, livelihoods and belongings. However, I urge those of you out there reading this who are praying believers, do keep praying. This is far from over yet.
At 4pm UK time today, (Sat), official figures from Cal Fire .CA are stating that the fire is still only 5% contained, and now burned up an unbelievable 80,000 acres (which, from a farming background, doesn’t bare thinking about).
Last night though, at home in Northern Ireland, I was also confronted with the cynical judgemental harshness of Northern Ireland people again as some I perhaps niavely expected to care, simply did not, and another talked about, “Vineyardians posting all their Instagram pics to ‘pray for Bethel.’ I was a wee bit taken back…I’d been out of Northern Ireland for too long (or not long enough, depending on what way one wants to look at it?!). The cynicism was palpable. I’m not sure if I was included in those comments or not. Ironically I’m not even a “Vineyardian” – whatever that may be.
My heart goes out to the people of Redding. Even if I hadn’t lived there. But it’s especially pertinent to me because I have.
I decided to write about this today – as rain pours down in County Antrim – simply because I felt like it. Simply because it’s okay to have passions and interests for specific places, and it’s more than okay to have compassion and care when others are suffering somewhere other than home. It’s ok to provoke and prod the cynicism even just a wee bit, though I echo other sentiments. I am hard to put into a ‘nice Northern Ireland box’!
I’m devastated for the great people, and sorry and sad that Whiskeytown lake won’t look the way it did (as it does in my Facbk profile picture) for a long, long time.
I’m very sad for all those who’ve lost homes and livelihoods.
I’m extremely sad for families of those who’ve lost their lives valiantly trying to help others in selfless service, paying the ultimate price.
The scenes we saw on the BBC news in Northern Ireland this morning made me want to weep. At times I have.
Redding will rise again, though, I firmly believe, and in Northern Ireland we are no strangers to bouncing back from tragic circumstances.
Over 7000 firefighters have been battling the blaze. The largest air craft carrier in the world was deployed to Redding yesterday. Over 38,000 people had been officially evacuated at time of writing. Yet the inner gut sense I’m getting from many of my friends in Redding (or those evacuated out of it), as well as in my own heart as I pray, is that the the tide is turning. There IS power in prayer. The sun has returned to Redding this morning, apparently one friend has told me, though thick smoke remains across the city.
I am declaring PEACE and prosperity, over this city I carry in my heart. I’m praying and contending with many others for this monstrous fire to back down. Over 500 buildings have been lost, 5000 structures are currently said to be under threat, but praise God the loss of life is far, far lower than it could be.
Photos: Personally sourced.
I’m particularly sad about the loss of Shasta Historic state park (above). I used to go there from time to time just to get out of the city and get a bit of head space. It’s horrendous to see it up in flames. Completely shocking.
For those of the praying variety with interest or prompting, keep praying for Redding, and Shasta County in Northern California. Prayers are powerful.
Below, you will see a stark glimpse of the devastation so far, by a look at Redding’s most famous landmark, the Sundial Bridge.