Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Running Scared in Running Springs

As I was listening to radio updates on the southland wildfires this morning, I looked down at my right arm and saw elbow-to-wrist goose bumps and hairs standing on end. Visual images of fire "jumping" or the potential of out-of-control wildfires "merging" and growing faster than the most aggressive cancer tend to do that to me.

Each time I hear an update about Running Springs, it brings me back to the fall of 2003, the last time the area was ravaged by wildfires. Cindy was 14 and a student at an emotional growth boarding school in Running Springs.

At the first threat of fire, the students and staff evacuated to a hotel on the mountain. But 24 hours later, the encroaching flames necessitated another mandatory evacuation order. The 100 students and staff were forced to flee from the highlands to the flatlands at the base of the mountain. The Salvation Army of Redlands immediately mobilized and clothed, sheltered and fed our children.

But the shelter was a short-term, not a long-term, solution. The Salvation Army recommended that the school move to "Camp Malibu," a Salvation Army-owned facility in the wilds of Malibu.

Within a week, the students moved three times from the mountains to the lowlands to the sea. We parents were advised NOT to do the thing that comes most naturally to parents - to swoop in and rescue our children. I knew intellectually that Cindy was safe, but my anxiety levels were higher than the flames rising up in the skies.

Within three weeks, the mountain was safe, the campus was clean and the students and staff returned to their "normal" life.

Today, as I watch the fires burning in Running Springs, I'm grateful that Cindy is safe and sound asleep in her own bed in her own room. I'm also grateful for the "highly trained and highly motivated" fire fighters, for the staff and volunteers of the Salvation Army who loved and cared for our children as though they were their own and the staff at CEDU who worked tirelessly to keep our children safe, before, during and after the fires.

And the next time you see a "bell ringer" from the Salvation Army in front of your favorite department store, I hope you'll drop in more than a few loose coins. I know I will.


cgfryling said...

I had tears in my eyes as I read the news this morning that Running Springs was evacuated and that so many homes had been destroyed at Lake Arrowhead. All those memories came rushing back.
Prayers to all in Southern California for a quick end to this situation.
Thinking of you Susan
Love, Carla

Susan Carrier said...

Yes, the memories keep flooding back. I loved the way the parents pulled together - the parents who owned a furniture warehouse near the base of the mountain. I forget if the kids went there before or after the Salvation Army. The parents from Georgia who owned a hotel and medical supply business who sent PJs, sheets and towels. Denise who ran around looking for flip-flops for the kids in October.

Andrew said...


Thanks for your thoughts. I
was pleased that the former
CMS/CHS campus was a haven
for firefighters, but I still
miss it being our school.

Thanks for keeping us posted on
you and yours.


Andy & Deborah Ellis