In October 2007, numerous wild fires were spreading across San Diego County and each fire had been given its own name.
The Harris fire, one of the two largest, was quite a distance from our property and the winds were blowing it away from us, and so on Sunday October 21st I drove to Chula Vista to give a nutrition lecture that had been scheduled for many months.
Although our immediate area would not be in danger for over 24 hours, and without my knowledge, Deerhorn Valley was mandatorily evacuated at 6 PM that Sunday evening while I was lecturing. I listened to all of my wife’s rather frantic messages on my cell phone, when I returned to my car after completing my presentation in Chula Vista. I phoned her and then drove to the home she had chosen to bring herself and our two Tonkinese cats to. A couple of hours later, we drove back to Deerhorn Valley in an attempt to get to our home and salvage many extremely important items. My computer, patient files, irreplaceable documents such as my grandparents immigration papers from Russia and Poland, many boxes of original negatives, slides and all my back up files needed to be saved. The highway patrol officers at the road blocks admitted that the fires were not an immediate threat to our home and that many residents had refused to leave and were still there, but they stood fast that they would not allow us to pass. No argument nor our pleading, was of any use. It would have been a many mile hike through mountainous terrain (and rattlesnake territory) if we had hiked around the road blocks by foot. We would not have been able to carry much of anything and could not have outrun the fires if they had changed direction while we were on the mountain.
A very well respected psychic I know, who works with police departments around the world as well as many of our own federal agencies, took it upon herself to get a message to me through a mutual friend, that I should not worry. She said that many houses in my area would be destroyed by this fire but that mine would be saved. Although I certainly do not believe that anyone is infallible, this did prevent me from possibly getting in touch with an officer I know who would have been happy to take an emergency leave and escort me though the road blocks with his empty truck. This was a mistake that of course I can never undue. It was not until days later that our address appeared on the destroyed buildings list. Although we did not have a web connection at our temporary location, two friends called to give us this disturbing information. On Friday the 26th we again tried to get to our property to see what was there. We had already heard stories and actually met people whose homes had been on the destroyed list and yet in reality had not even been touched by the fires, a mistake by the authorities, that should not be allowed to happen.
There was a Sheriff’s department road block at Honey Springs and Hwy 94 that was not allowing anyone except emergency vehicles to pass. There were still a few flare ups and they were being worked on by numerous fire departments, We spoke to one of our local deputies who said that if we were willing to wait a while, he would drive up and come back to let us know what he saw at our address. About 30+ minutes later, he came back and told us there was nothing left. This was the first verification that we knew was correct and it was heartbreaking. The next day, the fires were contained enough that we were able to take a look for ourselves and destruction is a fitting word for what we saw. Bombed buildings that I have seen on the news in various war zones were often less destroyed than our home. You would think that there might be some large appliances left standing in the ashes, such as our two refrigerators, my storage freezer, etc. They were not even able to be identified! Linda’s pottery kiln was the only thing that could be easily distinguished as it was designed for this type of heat, although only its inside surfaces were ever to reach above ambient temperatures. All of the metal parts and controls were melted so even it was not salvageable.
The areas where we had rock gardens filled with cacti and succulents were mostly unharmed. Friends have helped us take many cuttings so that we can bring back lots of these plants when we rebuild. There is no way to keep them watered during the year+ that it will take for our new home and office to be constructed. It hurts me to think that these plants that made it through the fires, will probably now die of thirst. Maybe the rains and the protective matting under the crushed brick will somehow help some of them get through. Of course it is possible that the heavy equipment used to remove all the debris and then the construction equipment many months later to rebuild, may need to travel over these rock gardens.
Losing everything you have ever owned and accumulated is not quite like anything else one might imagine. I continually think of more and more items that I will never see again. My grandmother’s wedding band, photographs of all the cats which have owned us over the past 30 or so years, photographs of my mother and grandparents which only I possessed and which I had both the photos and negatives of. I owned many wonderful rock and gemstone specimens that I had collected from years of going to the Quartzite rock and mineral show in Arizona. It is amazing how the 2000-3000 degree heat was able to destroy even my rock and mineral specimens. I located a few pieces after the fire and they crumbled as I picked them up. So many hundreds or thousands of other things were destroyed that I may not remember for weeks, months, or even years to come and that I sometimes cry when I think about them. The beautiful pieces of hand made jewelry that I slowly accumulated, sometimes from the artists themselves, over my lifetime. It really infuriates me when people make certain comments. One is - you have your health and your life and everything else can be replaced. Bullshit. I would like to see them bring back my treasured photos family heirlooms and original family documents for which no copies even exist. Also, those ignorant people who make comments such as, well you do live in a fire area you know. I would bet that they do not say that to people in Rancho Bernardo or Rancho Santa Fe or during the 2003 wildfires, in Scripps Ranch or Tierrasanta. These area lost a great deal more homes than we did in what they are referring to as “a wildfire area”. Get your facts straight before you make a fool of yourself.
We have now rented a house in Rancho San Diego. The architect and builder who had almost completed our addition of two storage rooms, a second office and a second entrance, will now be working on rebuilding our structure. Their pervious construction could not be insured as it was not yet completed. The home equity loan, however, must still be repaid along with our mortgage and now our current rent which is equal to our mortgage. Since we will surely make our new home a bit larger, that will be one more expense that never existed before.
My friends, students and patients as well as my wife’s clients and even people we have never met, have completely furnished our current rental house with their donations. Jewish Family Services sent us a wonderful gift check and it was definitely the largest amount of “Chanukah gelt” I have ever received. All of this tremendous outpouring of generosity is a true blessing, but I have always been a giver and to receive so much help and love often makes me cry. My brother in Florida told his students what had happened to us and collected many donated gift cards which we have used to purchase many much needed items. Michael also paid our first 3 months rent at our temporary rental house. He is always there when I need him as he knows I am in reverse. Many book authors have replaced their books for my library and that has helped, and their generosity and good wishes have felt very good. The CHEK institute www.chekinstitute.com and Paul Check, told their practitioners worldwide of my disaster via their web site and they collected and donated quite a bit of very helpful funds for which I am very grateful. My father in Sedona and my aunt in New York both sent some money to help us out.
I am not listing all the people who have helped us and especially a few who spent a great deal of their time giving us their help moving furniture into this temporary house. I will be forever grateful but you probably don’t all want your names up on my web page.
The Small Business Administration has approved a low interest loan for both our home and my business and this will certainly help over the coming months and for the rebuilding. The huge amounts of paperwork that were required, and the continuing paperwork needed to show were the funds are going, is yet one more thing that is tremendously difficult to find time to accomplish. Much of what we lost is not insured due to not paying huge sums for special riders on our insurance. My collection of Nikon cameras and numerous lenses from a lifetime of photography. My gemstones from years of collecting. Our original artwork and sculptures that were purchased, traded, or given as gifts, over the past decades when I was able to afford something special on occasion. My workshop of table mounted tools like my drill press, band saw, lathe, table saw. Radial arm saw, jointer, etc. All of these would have needed expensive separate insurance riders that we did not have. My mother’s beautiful solid walnut dining room table that I have eaten off of for close to 50 years and her Scandinavian chairs that we had re-upholstered a number of times as well as her large rosewood credenza. The list is endless, and it seems even more endless as I remember more cherished items that I will never see or hold or wear ever again. There are tears as I write this.
I went to Sears to get replacements for the dozen or so lifetime guaranty hand tools that I painstakingly dug out of the ashes. Their manager in El Cajon told me that the San Diego and Los Angeles stores were specifically instructed by their corporate legal department in Illinois NOT to replace the burned tools from the fires victims. I am communicating with a reporter from the Union about this, since denying their very explicit lifetime warranty at a time like this is both disgusting and infuriating. This seems as if it is going nowhere. This manager, Mike Deacon, took my phone number and said he would call me if this policy was reversed. He has never called and the Union does not seem to be following thorough on the story. SHAME ON SEARS. I also had a number of German made tools that I had purchased from Rodman Tools over the years at the Del Mar fair. Rodman has already replaced these for me at no charge and that was about $600 worth of hand tools. SHAME ON SEARS. I am not finished working to let the public know what a nasty thing Sears is doing to the fire victims.
As I write these words on January 18th 2008, there is one thing that still seems amazing. In order to allow my practice to get up and running easily, and because all my address books, phone books, and files were destroyed, I had to do something that I never would have imagined doing. I had to cancel all appointments that anyone had with me for the 4 months into the future that I had been booked up.
Since people were calling daily and asking to get an appointment, I needed to know when I could schedule them without double booking my time. I placed notices on this web site and on my voice mails, alerting everyone that they needed to call to confirm any existing appointments, by the end of November, and let me know the time and date and their phone number. I clearly wrote that anyone not doing this, would be automatically cancelled on December 1st so that I could begin to accept new appointments and start up my practice. Many patients called and their existing appointments were written into my new appointment book. What was so amazing was that even though the San Diego wild fires consumed all of the local news for maybe two full weeks, somehow many simply did not know.
Our small community of Deerhorn Valley, which almost nobody had ever heard of before, was CONTINUALLY on the news as being under mandatory evacuation. With all this news coverage, I still had two things happen. First, I had patients who only discovered that my office and home were completely destroyed when they drove up for their previously scheduled appointment. WOW, I wish I could have taken a photograph of each of their expressions when they saw no house but only a pile of ashes and rubble. Second, I am still getting people calling occasionally, as always happens, to cancel and reschedule their appointment. In this case however, some are phoning, not knowing that their appointment had already been cancelled since they had not called in to confirm that they had an appointment. They too did not know that our structure had been burned to the ground. Why all these people had not called to see if I still had an office and they still had an appointment varied from person to person, but to me it seemed amazing, due to the extent of the wildfire news coverage. Life continues to be interesting.
I sincerely love helping people regain their health so I will continue to rebuild my life and my business. At this point, I would like to express my special thanks to those companies who have gone out of their way to help me rebuild my practice. They have done this in many ways. Some of them forgave open invoices that had not yet been paid when my office and products were all destroyed in the fires. Some companies shipped my first rebuilding orders at no charge while others gave me deep discounts for my first practice rebuilding orders. Some manufacturers did both by sending some free products and deeply discounting others. Some companies replaced their expensive test kits that I use for muscle testing.
Please know two things:
This list is NOT in any order. I give my special thanks and great appreciation to:
My videographer, video editor and friend Duane Dimock was super generous and took most of a day both giving us and setting up a wonderful stereo system including a great receiver, DVD player, television, and he even put together a temporary computer for me on which I am composing these paragraphs.
I also greatly appreciate those associations which have helped greatly by waiving my 2008 fees, and/or by sending me many back issues of their scientific journals and these include:
The International and American Associations Of Clinical Nutritionists
Joel Kauffman, the author of a fabulous book entitled Malignant Medical Myths that everyone needs to read, replaced my copy of his book and sent me quite a number of other books that he had in his library, to help begin my new library.
Mary Toscano, whose fantastic DVD entitled Sweet Fire, which you all need to see, sent me some copies of her video to replace the ones I lost. www.MaryToscano.com
Of course it is fitting that my car’s transmission should need a $3500.00 rebuild which I just paid for yesterday (January 11th) since after all, the car does have 210,000 miles on it. Hope the engine doesn’t ask to be rebuilt too soon.
A client of Linda’s and friend of both of ours has given me her back-up digital SLR on loan until April and so I am able to also show you all these wonderful but awful photographs. I have included a few from before for nostalgia and comparison.
Thank you all for your continued help and thoughts. I promise to
continue to be a good little Phoenix as I continue to arise from the
ashes and rubble. As the saying goes (from some movie I never saw)
Heeeze Bah ack-
I am writing this update on July 18th 2010
Due to all sorts of insurance issues, which will be motivating me to start a new web site later this year at www.Insurance-Frauds.org. We were unable to rebuild our home and had to accept a little settlement which is (as they always require) confidential and cannot be discussed. When you end up over half a million dollars short of rebuilding costs, you cannot rebuild unless you are wealthy, which I am not.
Our horrendously bad economy, which will most likely continue to worsen for at least the next 1+ years, has had one benefit. It enabled us to find a nice house for people, cats and my business, on county property instead of city (better for my business) in El Cajon, for a price that was 50% below what it had sold for just a few years before and was therefore affordable. The economy also helped us with a 4.25% fixed rate mortgage so we at least got a few important helpful items after losing everything.
We moved in the beginning of January 2010 and I reopened my practice immediately. What a pleasure compared to the little rental house we had been in up until then.
Although I have still not had time to finish unpacking the house, and for this Linda is extremely upset, at least the cats and I are happy. The office is completely unpacked and set up, The alarm and 24 hour video surveillance systems are installed and working perfectly, 30% of the plants and landscaping are finished and the rest is moving ahead slowly, and I am back to my normal extremely hectic schedule. My goal for this year is to finally get caught up enough that finally, for the first time in well over a decade, I want to be able to get back to people within no more than 10 days after they leave me a voicemail. For the past 5 years it has often been as long as 3+ weeks!!! I hope I am not being delusional in my goal, especially since I am now being flown in to lecture at quite a few conferences around the U.S. every year. Wish me luck.
I will keep all my old Deerhorn Valley phone numbers, as I really intend to eventually make enough money to rebuild and move back to my property. 619-468-6846 is therefore still my main number.
I thank everyone and every business that has helped make this 2 ½ year transition period much less difficult than it might otherwise have been.
Here are some current photo’s
In order to help as many people as possible, prevent the catastrophic financial damage that happens
thousands of times a year in every state and untold numbers of times more during all natural disasters,
I have written up some information for you on another web site. I hope this information can help tens
of thousands to not have happen to you, what happened to me. Take the steps I have outlined and do it
now, or at least in the next 30 days.