Summer for me started early (March 19) when I learned that I was facing a possible quadruple bypass. My 61st birthday was spent in a hospital bed as I reflected on a lifetime of really bad dietary choices that led to my needing open-heart surgery. Hindsight is always perfect, isn’t it? I look in my rearview mirror at the past five months of recovery from surgery…and ahead at the 11+ months of continued recovery…and I’m truly thankful that I survived.
Fast forward to the hottest summer ever recorded in Alaska, and to a drought that has existed in my beautiful state for the better part of a year and possibly longer…We had temps of 90+ this summer, which to Alaskans feels far hotter than 120˚F feels to Californians. There are few places in Alaska that actually have air conditioning and stores everywhere sold out their stock of fans and AC units quickly. My front lawn has turned yellow due to not being watered and even the moss in my backyard is dying off due to lack of moisture. Anchorage is one dropped cigarette or backyard barbecue away from an epic conflagration in the Hillside community, a heavily forested section of Anchorage that is most at risk for a fire.
Alaska typically leads the country in the number of wildfires every summer, if for no other reason than our sheer size…and this summer we have entered into a league of our own with the number of fires. As of 24 August 2019, there are 222 fires that are actively burning . The total acreage that has burnt and is currently burning stands at 2, 056,337.5.
My rearview mirror shows me times when I thought the fire season couldn’t possibly get any worse, as was the case in 1996 when fireworks sparked the Miller’s Reach fire in the Big Lake area. This was a crown fire, one in which the fire burnt to the very tops of the trees and leapt like a live thing from tree to tree and across the highway in multiple places. Guess what? Eight years later in 2004, we experienced the worst recorded wildfire season when approximately 6.5 MILLION acres burnt.
Although fire is not currently threatening my family’s homestead, it is as bone-dry at Sherman as anywhere else in the state, and we have no water whatsoever because the creek – our sole water source – has dried up. We just pray that Sherman is spared, but at the moment we can’t get there. The Alaska Railroad currently has suspended all passenger service and there’s no other way to reach the homestead.
Mind you, fire isn’t necessarily a bad thing…until you lose everything you own, including your house and vehicles, your photographs and memories, your freezer with the winter meat supply…and the Alaskans displaced by the McKinley fire include business owners whose source of income went up in smoke, as well as dozens of people who have lost their houses and belongings in an area which lacks fire protection services and therefore cannot be insured against fire…those people need your help. Please consider contributing to the American Red Cross, and designate your contribution as Alaska Wildfire Relief or something similar. The general consensus is that those Alaskans affected by these fires are most in need of cash contributions or gift cards for food, clothing, and pet food. Seek out ways to help…Alaskans will be thankful, especially with winter coming on and nowhere to live…
(This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, hosted by the epic Kristi Rieger Campbell of Finding Ninee.com (https://findingninee.com/its-my-birthday-and-i-want-to-be-an-orangutan-mama/) and Super Mom Mardra Sikora, of Grown Ups and Downs (https://mardrasikora.com/rear-view-mirror/).
- Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/