Over the past five days, we have all heard and seen images of the devastating impact that three wildfires in California are having upon the state and its people. A long season with no precipitation, coupled with high seasonal winds, have combined to make the situation an extremely dangerous one.
The Camp Fire (in northern California) is now considered the most destructive, and one of the deadliest, wildfires in state history. Within a single day some 7,000 structures – including five public schools – in the town of Paradise were destroyed, and the death toll there now exceeds 42. Over 200 individuals are missing and feared dead. The Woolsey Fire, which is currently burning in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, has forced the evacuation of more than 265,000 people from 75,000 homes in Malibu, Bell Canyon, and Oak Park.
The Gonzaga Community has a large number of students from California, and some of them hail from areas that have been impacted by the fires. Our colleagues in the Center for Cura Personalis have reached out to over 175 undergraduate and 40 graduate students from California and continue to connect with them and others in need of support.
I would ask that any students in need of assistance please reach out to our colleagues in the Center for Cura Personalis; any employees in need of support are asked to contact Human Resources. We remain grateful for the thousands of firefighters, first responders, medical and emergency management workers, police and military personnel who are working tirelessly to contain the fires, and in so doing are putting their lives at risk for others, every day. Members of our community may wish to consider making a gift to one of the many charitable organizations that are working to provide support to those in need. Please keep all those affected by this disaster in your thoughts and prayers.
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by. –Psalm 57:1
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.