On the afternoon of September 15, 2014, a fire, set by a transient to stay warm , roared through the far northern town of Weed, California. Known as the Boles Fire, it was under control in only two hours, but not until it had completely destroyed 157 homes and 4 commercial properties, including the Presbyterian and Catholic churches. Everything in its path was burned to the ground. Herculean efforts saved the high school and the huge lumber mill, which provides work for much of the town. While no one died in the fire, lives were turned upside down.
UMCOR is funding a small volunteer program to assist residents with recovery. During the first week of May, Our group of 15 from Asbury UMC and Lynnewood UMC, traveled to Weed to help. We worked on three homes.
One of our projects was for Gary and his wife. He has a small auto body shop in town and like all of our clients, is doing much of the work, along with the help of family and friends, to rebuild his home. We finished installing siding and built a kitchen pantry. As with all of our clients on this trip, we were amazed by the determination each one had to rebuilding their own home.
Our second project was for Tiffany, Troy and their two children. Three years ago they bought a fixer upper and spent 1 ½ years renovating it themselves. Just as they finally finished, the fire burned it down. Since it was owner financed, most of the insurance went to paying off the house, leaving them with only $10,000 to rebuild from scratch. This dynamic duo is pouring their lives into rebuilding, living in a camping trailer on their property during the process.
At the point we arrived, they had hit a standstill. They desperately needed to finish the siding (9’x4’ 150 pound concrete panels!) on the second floor of the house. Steve Wilson, from our team, devised an ingenious process for winching the concrete siding panel from the ground up to the second floor level. Tiffany was a whirlwind, working right alongside us up on the scaffolding to install the panels and providing directions with a contractor’s confidence.
Not only did we finish installing the siding, we completed the installation of a wraparound deck, turning two corners with a beautiful herringbone design; finished trimming all windows and installed much of the rustic exterior trim. Tiffany and Troy never dreamed that we would complete as much as we did and were absolutely thrilled.
Our third project was for Shannon. She had bought a small fixer upper with cash and closed on it mere two days before the fire burned it to the ground. She had no insurance, but scraped together enough to buy another small home that was in pretty bad shape. We prepped and painted all interior walls AND the exterior of the house. We tore out the shower and put in a tub, which Shannon needs for her medical issues. Shannon worked alongside us all week. She was so very thankful for the tiniest of help, like simply putting up a closet rod.
We saw God’s glory every day. This is one of the most beautiful places we have ever served. It was rewarding, working for people for which we so admired their grit and determination.
In God’s service, Dan Ashton, Ruth Coffing, Dick Crawford, Cynthia DeLand, Steve Elliott, Roger Everett, Bob Hoffman, Doug and Mary Ellen Huey, Coleman Johnson, Howard and Dianna Mendenhall, Raeanne Passantino, Anton West, and Steve Wilson.