In October 2003, what became known as the “Cedar Fire” roared through the mountains of southern California, destroying 3,500 homes and 740,000 acres of land.
Christian Reformed people were affected by the fires and have been heavily involved in the recovery. In Crest, 270 people lost their homes, including one CRC family. In nearby San Diego, 43 CRC families were evacuated. Many of those people worked as Red Cross volunteers.
When the Red Cross left, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee took over the building of new homes for people who could not afford them. CRWRC volunteers, mostly retirees, have been coming from all over the U.S. and Canada for an average of three weeks each.
Typical of the volunteers were seven couples from Lynden, Wash., and western Canada, who came in November to build a house, do yard and office work, and attack clean-up jobs. Rev. Barry Blankers and his wife, Clarice, from Lynden, said they lived in a small trailer and worked hard and enjoyed it. “It was a great experience,” Rev. Blankers said. “I always wanted to go on a CRWRC work project.”
CRWRC Disaster Relief regional managers Don and Gert Vos of Ripon, Calif., returned home at the end of January from three weeks of work in Lakeside, Ramona, and nearby Canyon. “CRWRC will be there until June, and we have 30 houses to build yet,” Don Vos said.