The Friday Reflection – July 27, 2018

From Steve Rumage,
ECCO Director

Looking up to the mountains from the Central Valley, one can only wonder what its like closer to the Ferguson Fire which has grown to more than 38,500 acres in size. The impact of this fire continues to be felt across the region.

The Highway 41 entrance to Yosemite National Park was closed at 12:01 a.m. July 25th and park guests were asked to evacuate Yosemite Valley by noon that day. Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Mariposa Grove are closed at least July 25-July 29 due to fire operations. Regarding reopening, officials state that they will be making decisions day by day. Tioga Road and Tuolumne Meadows, including Big Oak Flat and Tioga Pass entrances, and Hetch Hetchy remained open.

At this time, ECCO is not directly affected by the Ferguson Fire and will remain open to scheduled groups. ECCO has cancelled its Road Scholar Inter-gen program that was scheduled to begin on July 29th due to the park closure and uncertainty about its reopening date. That program normally incorporates three trips into Yosemite.
ECCO is continuing to host fire personnel in available guest rooms.

Fire crews have worked hard to establish defensive lines around the fire, and as conditions permit, they are setting backfires from the fire lines to create additional buffers to help contain the blaze. The amount of smoke in the air varies day by day and is heavier when the backfiring operations are conducted. Local smoke conditions are still better when compared to the Railroad Fire last year, although at times it has been heavy enough to prompt drivers to turn on headlights. Although ECCO is making face masks available to guests, only a few guests have felt them necessary.

More than 3,400 personnel have been called to fight the fire. Please pray for their safety as they work to protect lives, property, and natural resources. Of the 3,494 structures threatened by the fire as this is written, only one out-building has been lost.

Please pray for those affected by the fire. Fire personnel and officials have been conducting regular community meetings to keep people affected by the fire informed of conditions, strategy, and progress. Many in attendance are understandably concerned. The gatherings help and provide hope. Where fire lines have been secured, some people have been allowed to return to their homes, and where the fire continues to advance, yet others are being evacuated.

When people do get back into their homes, they will return to refrigerators and freezers full of spoiled food as power is routinely shut off in evacuated areas to protect emergency personnel. Air cleaners will need to be replaced, fire retardant applied to their homes may need to be scrubbed clean, walls and surfaces covered in smoke residue will need to be wiped down, and all the clothing, curtains, etc. will need to be washed. For many, it may simply be overwhelming.

If you feel called to assist those affected by the fire, please contribute to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin Emergency Relief Fund – perhaps a special ask this Sunday. Dennis Fitzgerald (St. Raphael’s at ECCO in Oakhurst) will distribute aid as available from the Emergency Relief Fund in the form of grocery gift cards to evacuees. Donations may be mailed to the Diocese Office at 1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, CA 95355 or you may make your donation by credit card at by designating your gift to the Diocesan Emergency Relief Fund.

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