Superdawg and I managed to get in a walk today, but there's not much joy to be had when so many people in the Carolina Forest community are hurting. Late Saturday afternoon, something (cause still unknown) set off a fire just a few miles up the road that turned an apartment and condo complex into an inferno in minutes. People had to grab just a few precious possessions and run for their lives. Almost two hundred people are homeless for now, but thank God it appears there are no deaths or serious injuries. And there are heroes who helped people get out of burning homes in the nick of time.
The problem this time of year (March/April) is spells of extremely low humidity and high winds. That was the condition Saturday. After a little rain tonight, the forecast is 25 percent humidity and 25 mph winds tomorrow afternoon. That means the fire danger will again be extreme.
A month after we moved here four years ago, a huge wildfire burned about 20,000 acres and was halted just blocks from our neighborhood. But it's not as though this danger is unique to our stretch of the woods. When we lived near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, we more than once watched fires on very close-by mountains and hillsides that could have gotten us with a wind shift. Thank God also for dedicated firefighters, which included even the Virginia National Guard for one of our particularly ferocious wildfires.
Tragedies like these do bring out the goodness in humanity, just when you were beginning to think that quality might have vanished. People in the community are rallying with shelter, food, clothing, school supplies, and whatever else the survivors need. They probably need morale and spiritual support as much as anything right now, given that most of them lost everything. They need encouragement and the assurance that life will go on, and they will recover in time.
The fate of pets in the devastated community is a heart-wrenching part of the story. Clearly, residents were not able to get back into their homes and rescue some of them. However, what about dogs and cats that were able to flee the fire in terror, only to roam the area scared and perhaps hurt? Bless the Grand Strand Humane Society, for it is coordinating an effort to rescue these lost cats and dogs, and it has actually found a number of them, all gleefully reported on the Society's Facebook page. One was a beautiful black cat, found a bit charred but alive, under a bush. So there is some happiness amid the hurting.
Governor Nikki Haley visited today and rightly commended the first responders who saved lives and kept the fire from engulfing even more neighborhoods. But for those who lost some of their most precious possessions -- especially their beloved pets -- the pain has to be excruciating. They have our prayers.
© Robert G. Holland 2013
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