Evacuees from California Wildfires Find Shelter, Support



Wildfires have driven more than half a million people from their homes in California, and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses. Mike O'Sullivan reports from San Diego, California, some evacuees have found refuge at a race track, where they are making the best of a difficult situation.

This facility in Del Mar, north of San Diego, in normal times is a fairgrounds and race track. Now it is temporary home to some 2,000 people, and even more evacuated dogs and horses. There are just as many volunteers, who collect and distribute donations of food and clothing.

Charlotte Leger of Fallbrook, California, is here for her fourth day. She fears her house is lost, like most in her neighborhood.

"I believe my house is completely gone. It was in Fallbrook. We lost nearly all the houses there. It jumped the freeway. But I'm looking forward to finding out for sure," she said. "We're still not allowed to go back into the area at all. Fallbrook's completely closed off, so we can't get in, but you just try to go on with your life and help others that are going through the same thing, and give it your best shot."

She is keeping her spirits up, with help from volunteers at this evacuation center.

"It has been very comfortable, although we would like to be home," she said. "Everyone has just had such an outpouring of camaraderie with each other. The army is here, the Red Cross is here. Everyone has just been excellent."

Vicky Harjo lives in a trailer, also in the community of Fallbrook. She also believes her home was lost to the fires. She says her religious faith is helping her cope with the crisis, and her two small dogs are helping. She brought them here at the invitation of shelter officials.

"They said, bring some papers, or anything important," she said. "I grabbed my Chihuahuas, and I got some dog food, and that's all we brought."

Shiva Moradfar of Rancho Santa Fe believes her home escaped the fire. An immigrant from Iran, she has lived in the United States for 30 years. The California resident has seen her share of wildfires, but says none has come as close to her as this one.

Moradfar says that other evacuees are helping her keep her spirits up, and she is repaying them by serving as a volunteer herself.

"It's awesome. I mean the people here, the evacuees, are really nice," she said. "The volunteers, the people who run the place, it's amazing."

These evacuees say that in addition to finding food and shelter, they are getting support from their neighbors, which is helping them get through this major disruption to the lives.

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