Ormsby Trail residents return to rubble

May 24, 2008 7:06:28 PM PDT
Along Ormsby Trail the first evacuees have started to return to what's left of their homes.

They are returning to a fire ravaged neighborhood as the home properties look eerily the same with charred trees, ash covered ground and a stale smell of smoke that is still in the air.

"This used to so beautiful. Right now, its kind of so black," says homeowner Alan Walendowski.

It is a homecoming made in hell for dozens of people who live in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Right now, it's like going through the process. You know, you're kind of on autopilot," says Walendowski.

Alan Walendowski. And his wife Ellen had about 40 minutes to get out of their home on in the Ornsby Road neighborhood.

"it's only dawning on us now, the little things that you forget. The pictures of the dogs when we were kids," says Alan.

On Saturday, his wife picked up a few mementos that she had no idea would one day become treasures.

"We tiled off our weight room ourselves, so this is the tile from that, and this is the wheel of our car," says Ellen as she shows us what remains from their dream home.

We caught up with Hugo Ban Zazzara at the Red Cross shelter before he got a chance to see what was left of his home, which he built himself.

"It's a lot more than just a house. I had my great Grandfather's glass who came to America from Sweden," says Hugo.

We made it to Hugo's property and what was left was a sad sight of rubble and debris. It's a sight that is eerily repeated all over these mountain roads where the little comforts in life are few and far between.

Alan and Ellen Walendowski had insurance, but sadly, Hugo did not.

As the Red Cross shelter in Santa Cruz County closed Saturday, Hugo made plans.

"I have to kind of rebuild it now, but now I won't be able to replace what I've lost."

Ellen Walendowski took a deep breath as the brute of the devastation is becoming a reality.

"I'm sure the amount of shock hasn't really sunk in, but I don't know why I'm holding up okay. We'll deal with it. Now, you go forward."

Some buildings apparently did survive the fire, but there's also the sense that everyone is lucky since there have been no fatalities in this fire.


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