First of all we want to thank you. Thank you for praying, thank you for reaching out. Thank you for making the needs of this County known. Much of the world has seen the recent devastation caused by the Carr Fire in the Shasta County area. The wildfire started on Monday the 23rd but didn’t become an emergency to our city until later into the week. Our girl’s house is located in one of the first neighborhoods to be evacuated in Redding city limits. They had to pack up and head out early Thursday morning, and we began watching the news for updates.
What we began to realize is that while the news was informative, it caused quite a bit of stress and despair as flames seemed to be reaching closer and closer to our beloved city. Based on maps we were seeing, it seemed as if half the city was being engulfed in flames. Thursday night (the 26th) was a bit chaotic as rumors of a city-wide evacuation spread. However, no official order was given by police and we slept safely yet cautiously in our base’s housing that was still outside of evacuation zones.
The next day when we ventured out to drive around ourselves, we could see the reality of the situation, and we began to regain a greater sense of safety. We know that many of our friends, family, and future students are watching, so we wanted to give you all a realistic look at this fire through our eyes as life continues in our city. We want to assure you that we are safe, and threat of further damage in the city at this point is slim. We are focusing our attention and energy now on aid for families who have lost their homes, and on maintaining hope as we watch and see our God come through for us.
The most important thing we want you all to be assured of is that we are ok! There are so many photos of raging flames and ruined homes, but we want to assure you that while this is all real, it is only reflective of what 5% of the city of Redding experienced (see map above). It’s devastating that over 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, but keep in mind that this is throughout all of the affected 110,000 acres of Shasta and Trinity Counties. The most densely populated parts of the city of Redding have remained mostly safe.
The worst of the danger for our city happened on Thursday night when flames could be seen clearly on the hills to the west of us. These flames spread to take homes in the neighborhoods of west Redding. Thankfully, though, by Friday morning things had shifted and the fire was moving away from threatening our homes and businesses. Miraculously as well, not every home in affected areas was leveled by the fire. We have heard many testimonies of family’s homes remaining untouched (our girl’s house included), even as their neighbors lost theirs.
Though the fires have continued to spread, they have been mostly moving away from the city, and containment lines have been made to prevent/ reduce the risk of further damage to Redding. At this point the spread also seems to be slowing down as opposed to in the first few days when they doubled overnight. We’re not 100% in the clear until this fire has been completely put out, but peace is fighting it’s way to the surface here once again.
The ominous red-orange glow of the fires is all but gone and has been replaced with a hazey covering of smoke throughout the city. Some areas of Redding are still blocked off with police enforced roadblocks (including our girl’s house location) but evacuation notices are slowly being lifted.
What It’s Like in Redding Now
There were many people who left Redding the night of the 26th, but many are returning. Downtown Redding is slowly coming back to life as businesses that had to temporarily close are opening back up. Life is slowly but surely carrying on. The strength of our city has been evident as people volunteer with relief efforts on top of their normal work. The 95% who have not had their homes affected are generously reaching out to their neighbors and needs are being met.
Over the weekend, and even into this week, restaurants have been offering free food to firefighters and evacuees. Evacuation centers were quickly opened by Red Cross, and many individuals have opened up their homes to friends displaced by the fires. Members of our community have been setting up pop-up stations around the city to give out food and water, and Bethel Church has opened up as a distribution center with the Salvation Army. Other churches and schools have opened up for firefighters to sleep, as evacuation centers, or as places of hope with worship, prayer, and even free counseling.
The strength and unity in Redding has always been one of our favorite things about this community. Seeing everyone rally together to respond in this crisis has been nothing short of breathtaking. Donations have been flooding in and fundraisers for families who have been affected are going strong. The local church has become a place of rest and hope.
We trust and believe in our God. The same God who lead the Israelites out of Egypt, who parted the Red Sea, who brought down the walls of Jericho, and who raised Christ from the dead is with us! We feel His presence and His peace all around us. We want to encourage the world that we are hopeful. That we are confident. We are strong and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Our city belongs to Him, and we are confident in His ability and desire to bring beauty from the ashes.
How You Can Help
We wanted to give you all a look at what it is like in our city. We don’t see the flames that have circulated throughout social media; thankfully the Lord and an amazing team of firefighters has protected us from that. We are a city of resilient life, and that’s what we hope you will see.
We know that the next few months will be crucial for our city as we take on relief efforts. Please continue to pray for us and for Shasta and Trinity counties as the fight to end this fire goes on.
Some prayer points include:
- For flames to die and for the fire to stop spreading (whether by rain or divinely strengthened efforts of fire fighters).
- For the air quality to improve miraculously. The ash and smoke has made it necessary to wear masks to protect our lungs. Pray that air quality improves despite this and that the Lord covers our community in supernatural health.
- For families who have lost their homes or who’s homes have been damaged. Pray for peace, for the comfort of God, and for provision of finances and needs met.
- For families who have lost loved ones. Two firefighters have died in the line of duty, and a family lost their grandmother and two children. Pray for comfort in mourning and Peace that passes all understanding to guard their hearts and minds.
- For the local businesses and the economy in Redding. Pray that the economy is blessed and even thrives while damages are repaired, and for the businesses that have stepped up to help at a financial loss.
- For Peace, hope, joy, and unity to be our covering. Pray that a supernatural peace and joy bind our community together as we put our hope in God. Pray for us to remain rooted in His goodness and love even amidst loss and hardship.
- For our base financially as the displacement of our girl’s house challenges us. If you feel lead to give toward this need for our base specifically you can go to: ywamunited.org/donate
Thank you, from all of us at YWAM Redding.
Most photos courtesy of Daniel Bigelow. Find more of his work on instagram.
Give Financially to Relief Efforts
If you are wanting to make a donation toward relief efforts, here is what we recommend.
- Giving through Bethel Church at bethel.com/carrfire. Scroll down until you see a line of tabs, one of which is titled “How to Give” You can give directly to Bethel Church for their efforts, or through the Salvation Army. Both of these will give 100% of proceeds toward relief for the Carr Fire. A link to the Red Cross is also given, however, donations there will be for disaster relief in general, there is no way to specify the Carr Fire.
- Burn 24/7 fundraiser at give.church/sx5w40q They have posted that, “All donations will go towards aiding the displaced, fire-fighters, medical personnel and anything to help in this devastation! [we will publish a report of all that has been given and where it was given to]”
- Shasta Regional Community Foundation shastarcf.org/funds/cdrf. On their website it says, “100% of your donation (excluding online credit card processing fees) will go to Carr Fire recovery efforts.”