With each passing day the enormity of what happened in Paradise and nearby Butte County communities two weeks ago becomes increasingly stark.
As of Wednesday morning, the toll from the Camp Fire stood at 81 dead, 870 people unaccounted for, 12,637 homes destroyed, and 4,201 businesses and other buildings leveled. Most of the more than 26,000 residents of Paradise are now homeless.
Today is not just a time to give thanks for our good fortune, but to recognize the suffering of others — and to offer a hand.
The smoke has finally cleared here in the Bay Area. We shouldn’t let the memory dissipate as well. For it’s important to remember that human tragedy in Paradise could have happened here. It could have been us.
Indeed, it has been us. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 claimed 63 lives. The Oakland hills fire of 1991 killed 25. It happened before, and it will happen again.
Which is why on Thanksgiving we should be grateful for what we have today and mindful of others less fortunate – in Paradise and here among us in the Bay Area.
For those of us with food on our tables, clothes on our backs, good health, a steady paycheck and roofs over our heads living in one of the most beautiful places on earth, there’s much to be thankful for.
In recognizing our good fortune, we also must recognize that others are suffering — forced to live on the streets, struggling to pay the rent or beaten down by failing health.
That could be us someday. None of us are immune to the next natural disaster. We’re all vulnerable to illness. And most of us would be in a world of hurt without our jobs.
On this day in which we give thanks for our good fortune, we have an opportunity walk the talk – to help others as we would hope they would help us in our time of need.
Take a moment to think about what you can do. Perhaps you’ll help serve turkey dinners today to the homeless. Or you’ll volunteer to mentor a struggling child. Or offer to transport a friend to medical appointments.
Or maybe you’ll open your checkbook. To help victims of the Camp Fire, check out the North Valley Community Foundation (www.nvcf.org) or the Tri Counties Bank fundraising drive (www.gofundme.com/tcb-2018-camp-fire-fund).
Closer to home, you can strengthen our community by contributing to The Mercury News Wish Book (wishbook.mercurynews.com) or the East Bay Times Share the Spirit (www.sharethespiriteastbay.org) holiday season campaigns.
This is a day to look inward and recognize how fortunate we are. And to look outward for opportunities to help those in need. Take a moment for both.
Editorial: Paradise reminds us that we are all vulnerable