Santa Cruz wildfire victims gather

November 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Wildfires caused massive devastation throughout California this year. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Places that would have been full of family and laughter on holidays like this. A family lost everything this summer - but thanks to a special gift, still got to celebrate Thanksgiving.

"This could be kind of fun, a new adventure" said Sharon Begley, Trabing fire victim.

Sharon Begley is cooking Thanksgiving dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen. Her daughter's friend generously lent the Begley's their Soquel home for the holiday.

"It's nice for us to be able to spread out for a couple of days and sit down together. It's a good thing," said Eileen Begley, Trabing fire victim.

A traditional Thanksgiving at their homes is simply not possible. A video shows flames destroying all of their homes back on June 20th. The Trabing fire burned 630 acres and ten homes in Santa Cruz County. Three of the houses and an apartment were on the Begley's two and a half acres near Watsonville. Sharon fondly called it the family compound - a place where she, her four children and now grandchildren had lived since 1972. Since the fire, the family has literally been camping out on their property. They are now living in four trailers. Virtually every material thing the family owned is gone.

"The little things that you take for granted are gone - everything, the paperwork, the mementos. I had stuff that belonged to my grandmother. Now I can get another quilt, but it won't be the one she made," said Sharon Begley, Trabing fire victim.

The structures were insured and Sharon hopes to have building permits after the first of the year, but the journey from here to there is a long one. Eleven-year-old Laurel focuses not on what is but what will be.

"I keep drawing out a map of the house, and sometimes I do silly stuff that can't happen - like pools in my room or something," said Laurel Begley, Trabing fire victim.

The family's outdoor pool is about the only remaining evidence of the comforts lost to the Trabing fire. On Thursday however, the family is giving thanks: for a friends borrowed kitchen, a home cooked meal and each other.

"To be all together is what makes it worthwhile you know, just to have the whole family together again and to know that you have family," said Daniel Kane, Trabing fire victim.


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