12 October 2017

Borne--And Born--Out Of The Fire

Sometimes natural--or human-caused--disasters can make it impossible to drive a car or truck.  Roads might be impassable, gasoline supplies could be low or non-existent or wind, rain or other conditions might reduce visibility or eliminate it altogether.

During such crises, some people ride bicycles to stores that might still be open,  to check up on relatives, friends or neighbors or even to rescue or transport victims.  Last month, after Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf Coast of Texas, Jeff Whitehead pedaled 300 miles from his home in Laguna Park, a town near the center of the Lone Star state, to the coastal community of Rockport "just to do whatever I could to help," he explained.  He could not have made that trip in his car due to the destruction wrought by the storm.

Other times, however, it's not the disaster itself that makes driving impossible:  it's, ironically, other drivers.  A mass exodus from a storm, wildfire or other catastrophe can lead to huge traffic jams on roads leading out of the afflicted area.  That is what happened to Charity Ruiz when she evacuated her Santa Rosa, California home in the wake of wildfires that have singed their way through the northern California wine country.

The traffic tie-up stopped her in the middle of a street on fire.  She feared, not only for her own life, but for those of her two daughters--and yet-unborn baby son.

Yes, she is pregnant.  In fact, she is due to have a C-section next week. (That is on hold, because the fires closed the hospital in which she was scheduled for the procedure.) That makes what she did to get herself and her children out of harm's way all the more heroic.

She ran back to her house and grabbed her bicycle, which is equipped with a toddler trailer.   With her two girls in the trailer, she pedaled through the fire.  

Her greatest worry, she said, was tipping over and falling.  "I just kept yelling at the girls, 'Tell me if you're OK'," she recalled.

After riding for a while, a Good Samaritan in a Jeep drove them to a friend's house, where they were reunited with Charity's husband Mike.

The family is now staying with relatives in San Jose.  And one day, Charity Ruiz will be able to tell her son of all that she did to bring him into this world!

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