More than a month after the deadliest fire in California history, Chapman students affected by the Woolsey Fire are contemplating holidays without homes and neighbors.
“There were five to ten students who reached out to our office directly requesting help and support,” said Elise Cimino, executive assistant to Dean Price.
The Woolsey Fire started on November 8th near Simi Valley. The fire burnt through more than 153,000 acres and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials. The deadliest fire in California history is finally said to be 100 percent contained. Although the fire is contained, many students are still grappling with the destruction of their homes; however, they are thankful that their families and friends are safe.
Among those who lost their homes were Chapman students, Jordan and Cameron Krekorian.
Jordan Krekorian, a senior screenwriting major, said that the family spent Thanksgiving at her older sister’s house.
“My sister [Cameron] and I spent the week at our older sister’s house in Eagle Rock with our parents, while we were waiting to move into our rental house for the next year, or however long it’ll take to rebuild our house,” Krekorian said.
The Krekorian’s parents are currently living in a rental home right outside of Bell Canyon, California where they previously lived.
Krekorian said she is not quite sure where they will spend the Christmas holiday.
“I think we’ll either have it at my parents’ new place or at my older sister’s or maybe my older brother’s? Not sure yet, we don’t really plan super far ahead for that,” Krekorian said.
As to when the new house will be finished, she says it could take up to two years.
“We figure [it will take] about a year, two at the longest. We were already in the middle of a remodel and my parents are pretty focus forward for the new house on what they want.” Krekorian said.
She is grateful for tiny acts of kindness that show their experience is not lost on others.
“Someone anonymously put a small pot of white flowers on the driveways of all the houses that completely burned,” Krekorian said.
Losing her home has taught her to appreciate the people in her life.
“I’m glad my parents got out safely and I really have appreciated everyone who’s reached out to me and my family,” she said.
Catie Kovelman, a Chapman student who is also from Bell Canyon was evacuated from her family home. The fire started when her dad was home alone with a bad back. Kovelman was not able to get to her house because the 101 freeway was closed.
Her dad evacuated to friends’ homes but those neighbors, too, were forced to evacuate as the fire galloped closer and closer, , according to Kovelman. He ended up coming to stay with her at her house in Orange.
“[The fire] burned a lot of my street and right through the backyard up to my house, but my house is still standing. We have a decent amount of damage, but we are standing,” said Kovelman, the senior creative producing major and journalism minor.
Her neighbors, she says, are dealing with the effects on their houses and the insurance hassles that accompany claims.
“Insurance has been big lately everyone is just trying to get their inspector there and their money set up,” Kovelman said.
She plans on returning home for the holidays.
“I feel like the holidays are bitter sweet. I’m so grateful I have a house, but I feel bad for the 30+ neighbors who lost their homes,” Kovelman said, “My community is so burned, and the park went down too, so it’s weird [to be home].”
She says she is feeling lucky to have her home still standing. But is more thankful for the people in her life.
“I’m honestly just grateful I had a house to come home to for the holidays. I didn’t realize how much I valued the traditions that would’ve been lost this year with no house to do them in. But honestly, my family and dogs were safe, and that’s what matters. Stuff can be replaced but they can’t,” Kovelman said.