Heartache or relief: Residents learn the fate of their homes at college
The indiscriminate nature of damage caused by the Angora fire was revealed in the main lobby of Lake Tahoe Community College on Monday, as South Lake Tahoe residents gathered to examine nearly a dozen pages listing properties damaged by the blaze.
Many of those at the college had been evacuated from areas surrounding the fire on Sunday, with no knowledge of whether or not their homes escaped the flames.
On the lists, containing data gathered by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office early Monday morning, were several streets under which all the houses were listed as “OK” or having “major” damage. Most streets contained houses exhibiting a wide range of destruction, often with intact houses standing next to the completely lost.
“Why does it say my house is the only one on the street that has major damage?” asked a young woman in disbelief after finding her home on the list.
While some people left the room in tears or with a sense of muted elation, depending on the condition of their home, most were left with heartbreaking uncertainty.
Even after an update at 10:30 a.m., many homes near the fire couldn’t be found on the list, because the areas had not yet been reached by sheriff’s deputies or a home’s number was unavailable
Residents peppered officials with requests for more information, but further details were hard to come by.
As people continued to pile in, deputies were constantly reiterating the two reasons a home could not be identified — because house numbers were obscured or the homes themselves were completely destroyed.
By noon, the crowd inside the library had swelled to more than 100, with many people checking the addresses of friends and family. Those who had determined their homes were safe could be seen consoling those who hadn’t.
Listening to people who have lost their homes is the most important aspect of helping them through the grieving process because everyone is different, according to Dave Zander, an El Dorado County mental health clinician, who traveled from Placerville on Monday to act as a grief counselor at the college.
The complete lack of injuries from the fire was remarked upon several times by those in attendance, and iterations of “it’s just stuff” were commonplace.
South Lake Tahoe resident Pam Singer was overheard summing up the sentiment inside the lobby when she was overheard comforting two visibly distraught young children.
“We have each other,” she said.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
A grand opening will be held for Chick-fil-A Carson Valley, located at 4751 Cochise St., on Jan. 21.