By Stephanie Gaito, Volunteer
On Monday night, August 17, Margaret Grant received an after-hours call from her insurance agent. Evacuation warnings had been issued for the North Complex fires near Susanville, but she was waiting for more information.
Once the phone rang, Grant knew the call from her agent must be urgent, and she was correct. The agent urged her to immediately evacuate the home she shared with her fiancé and parents. Their property was in danger as the fire rapidly headed in their direction.
Grant and her fiancé, Rick Duckworth, moved six years ago to rural Susanville from Southern California to help her parents care for their family home and surrounding property. That Monday when they were evacuated, her family’s safety was the main concern. As each family member headed to a safe destination, her worries were put to rest.
“As long as my parents are safe with my brothers, Rick and I would have slept in our car and done whatever we needed to do,” Grant said.
Grant and Duckworth used their own resources to cover the expense of staying two nights at the Diamond Mountain Casino in Susanville. They didn’t want to bother anyone or use resources for others in need.
“At that point, it has been over two days, and we had pretty much run out of funds” she explained. “We didn’t know what we were going to do. Later that day, a lady called and asked if we had eaten, and at that point we hadn’t,” she explained through tears. “She called and took care of our food and she has called and checked on us every single day since.”
The woman who called Grant was a Red Cross volunteer, and she made sure to take care of the family’s needs. The Red Cross assisted by covering additional nights at the hotel and by providing meal tickets and vouchers to Grant and her fiancé so their stay was as safe and hassle free as possible.
Grant and her family had made considerable efforts to protect their home from wildfire, including maintenance of defensible space and adding fire suppression tanks to the property. When asked if there was anything she would recommend to those looking to protect their homes, maintaining well equipment was high on her list. She said to make sure all equipment has been serviced and maintained to ensure sufficient water pressure, as this could save your home.
“I’m just grateful for the firefighters up here. Between the Red Cross and the firefighters, we would have lost our house if it wasn’t for them.”
If you would like to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts, visit redcross.org.