Friday afternoon when the wind caused the flames to jump canyons and ridges a local family living on the Beaverslide-Tom Taha Cutoff Rd. lost all that they had except the proverbial shirt on their back, a few food supplies stored in a shed and a tent camper with only 6 minutes separating material loss and their lives. The mother texted her sister at 6:20pm “We are leaving”. At 6:26 pm a neighbor above them texted a friend as they were evacuating that the fire had overtaken their home.
Their departure was so rapid as the flaming embers rained down that one of their daughters, aged 3, didn’t even have any shoes on, all of her shoes being lost in the flames along with everything else of the families.
The father, Carl “C.J.” Peterson, is the head electrician at Blue North Forest Products and has received support from his employers and the ultimate owner of Blue North. His employer gave him all the time off he needed to get through the crisis and then the management of Blue North Forest Products delivered a $1,000 check to help with expenses and replacement of lost goods. Carl and his wife, Crystal, has been very positive about such a heavy loss. “God has something better for us,” they say about the complete loss. Because the age of their mobile home their insurance company dropped them and would no longer provide insurance to them. The only loss that was covered was their Ford family vehicle. They have been trying to save money to buy a home, but have been put off several times because of the inflated real estate prices in our area. Real estate is very difficult for a family to get into because of the amount of outsiders that come here to retire after having made their fortune or others that come from higher income areas that see land for sale. We welcome these buyers, but it comes with a negative impact on locals and drives the prices so high they have a difficult time getting into a 1st home and generally can’t purchase much land at all.
Taking no thought of their loss they plunged right into helping neighbors and worked tirelessly through the night and into the wee hours of the morning before collapsing in the motel room. The next morning as Carl woke and saw his family safely sleeping he thanked God and said to himself, “This is all that really matters right here.”
The Petersons continued to help others in need, providing his electrical expertise helping neighbors get their generator up and running.
The HEALTH insurance company provided by Blue North Forest Products, Troy Insurance out of Lewiston, Idaho found out about their loss and hand-delivered 5 – $500 prepaid VISA cards to Carl, Crystal and their three children, totaling $2,500.
They are not sure what their plans are going forward, but are absolutely blown away by the kindness and generosity of many people in the local community starting as early as the night of their loss simply walking up to them and handing them money. It astounded them and they have not yet grown used to the idea of such an outpouring of generosity. They are staying in the Clearwater 12 Motel that their local church, First Apostolic Acts Church, has graciously reserved and paid for them to stay as long as they need to.
The outside support has been absolutely phenomenal not just from this community, but truckloads of supplies, food, blankets, clothes, and much, much more than could be listed come in daily. Cities like Lewiston, Idaho are sending supplies from their giving citizens. Our town is the recipient of some great American kindness and a true spirit of togetherness from people all over the nation. It has been absolutely amazing to watch it unfold before our eyes…nothing short of staggering. Let me say for everyone in the community we are EXTREMELY OVERWHELMED AND THANKFUL!!!!! Thank you to everyone that has done anything to help; all the way from the firefighters, both local and out of state, to those handing out bottles of water, to those donating money and supplies from afar. It is times like this that we see what a great nation this truly is and know that in our hearts still burns the great American ideals of helping one another as one nation under God!
The folks at the Pizza Factory in Kamiah, Sherri Dunning and her husband, told Carl and Crystal Peterson, “…Your money is no good in here…these pizzas are on the house.” God bless them!
Also, they went into the Pit Stop in Kamiah, owned by Atkinson’s Distributing, to get ice for some homeowners still battling fires and were told that their 5 bags of ice couldn’t be paid for…they were taken care of. Just a day later, Carl and Crystal stopped in to fill up their remaining vehicle and the rental car with fuel as they have been doing a lot of running helping and buying supplies. When he went in to pay the total was $20 less than what the pump showed. He asked the cashier how that could be. She said, “when I saw it was you folks I put $20 in the till for you.” God bless the people at the Pit Stop!
Yet, it would be remiss if we didn’t mention the story that touched this couple the most in their time of tragedy. It happened at the Franz Bakery in Lewiston, Idaho. Crystal’s aunt was purchasing 100 loaves of bread to make sandwiches for firefighters when an gentleman in his 70’s walked up to her.
“Excuse me ma’am is that bread for firefighters?”
“Yes, it sure is.” She replied.
“Listen,” He said somewhat nervous. “I am on a fixed income and it is the middle of the month. I don’t get any more money until the 1st of September, but I have $8 left. I know it isn’t much, but do you know a family that is in need in Kamiah that has lost their home?”
“As a matter of fact, I sure do.” Cindy, Crystal’s aunt replied.
The old man pulled out the $8 from his pants pocket. “I have to do something to help. I can’t just do nothing. Could you please give them this $8?”
“I would be glad to.”
The Petersons state this gift of $8 may mean more to them than all the others because the man gave all he had. They pray that God pours out a blessing on the unknown gentleman that he will know came from God! They can hardly relate the story time after time without tears coming to their eyes it is so touching and shows the true heart of caring people.
I have heard that there will be a community fund raiser for this family, but am not sure of the details. I will post them as soon as I know where to send people or provide links if you would like to donate and help them recover some of their losses. They had no insurance on their home of any kind.
Again, this entire valley is grateful for the support and prayers!