The Dixie fire, with its heartache, loss, and pain, makes it tempting to feel only despair at our plight, to see what befell the people of Greenville and Canyon Dam and elsewhere as an omen of our times. Has nature, powerful and impersonal, turned against us? Are we powerless to resist it? Looking at the pictures of the homes of our friends, charred beyond recognition, makes it seem so, as does the specter of hundreds of thousands of acres of beautiful forest, trees and bushes vaporized, animals sent fleeing.
People are a part of nature too, though we often forget it, and people have risen up to resist the forces of nature arrayed against us. The men and women who have fought the fires, on the ground and from the air, and their support crews, by the thousands, deserve our undying respect and appreciation. Despite our losses, nature has met with fierce resistance from these dedicated people. Law enforcement, too, has done an incredible job in difficult times. In short, the people we count on to help us in our time of need stood tall and did their jobs under extraordinary circumstances, and we should always remember that.
Perhaps more incredible is the story of everyday people during this natural disaster, doing the extraordinary. Somehow, incredibly, fresh produce appeared for the newly homeless, and donations of all kinds poured in. Paradise High, fresh from its own tragedy, raised $5,000 for kids in Greenville, while Feather River College Baseball players delivered refrigerators to Greenville via the Sheriff. A woman in Taylorsville rigged a contraption to fill water tenders in two minutes. People opened their homes to evacuees, their ranches to horses and livestock, and delivered truckloads of hay for the animals to eat. A Quincy businessman gave away bikes to evacuees, and restaurants offered comfort food to people who needed that more than anything else. The only thing I’m certain of is that I’ve forgotten a bunch of other great stories, and didn’t hear about a host of others.
What I am saying to you, good people of Plumas County, is that although nature may have won the first round, this fight is not over, and, based on what I have seen, we will prevail. Soon Greenville will be rebuilt, as will Canyon Dam, and while we shall mourn all that we have lost, we should always cherish the goodness that has flowed from this disaster, and build on it. The differences that often divide us seem pretty small in the face of walls of fire, don’t they? Nature, random and indifferent to our similarities and our differences, cannot be defeated of course, but, when humans stick together with love and kindness, we can put up a fight.