Community faces second-hand effects of Woolsey Fire
Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor
Rinesa Kabashi staff writer
As the Woolsey fires continue to scorch the Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, students continue to reap the second-hand effects of the fire. While not too many students have faced the direct consequences of the fire, some have taken affected family and friends into their own homes.
The Woolsey fires, as of today, are 57 percent contained and have burned through over 98,000 acres of land. Beverly Hills’ neighboring communities, such as Malibu, have been devastated.
Senior Audrey Labib’s family Malibu home was destroyed. For the time being, her cousins are finding refuge at Labib’s house until they can back on their feet.“Knowing that their house that they built all those memories in was destroyed made me feel really grateful for my home. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose everything so suddenly. I really hope the family and community can gather enough resources to help those in need during this time because they really need it,” Labib said.
Senior Jordana Asars’s friends were asked to evacuate but do not yet know the impact the fire has had on their home.
“It’s very sad because she had no way to find out if her house was okay and she also had nothing. Everything was in her house including her wallet and license and she was really scared she was going to lose everything,” Asars said.
Asars intends to donate to fire relief. One way of donating to aid victims and displaced persons is through the Hope Heros foundation or through the Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire Sudden and Urgent Needs Effort.
Some students, however, are facing the effects of living close to the fire. Bridget Carter, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, five miles away from the fires, is concerned for her family’s and communities’ well-being. She has not yet had to evacuate but is worried about the risks the fire poses. Despite her worries, she finds solace in knowing the fire is being contained more and more every day.
“I am very grateful for the great work of the firefighters; it is because of their hard work that the containment of the fire is increasing every day,” Carter said. What’s been going through my mind the most these past few days is the safety of my friends in the community who are even closer to the fire than I am. But again, the containment of the fire is reassuring.”
Camp suffers ‘severe damage’ at hands of Woolsey Fire
Alya Mehrtash staff writer
Mikaela Rabizadeh media editor
Sophomores Carly Arebalo and Eva Levin are both CHK campers. The pain of losing their “summer home,” as dubbed by Arebalo, was one that they were not prepared to face.
“When I found out that my camp was burning down, it was like the world stopped for a second. It felt like a part of me was gone,” Levin said. “I have spent three of the best summers of my life at that place, and to have it be reduced to a pile of ash was really hard.”
While both students felt the shock of losing CHK, Arebalo also pointed out that its location in the mountains increased the likelihood of the structures being burned down.
“I was shocked when I found out that the fire had burned down CHK, but given the location, nothing could have been done to prevent it,” she said.
According to their website, Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps “strive to build a place where everyone is equal and included, supported and cared for, connected and challenged.” That unified spirit of a community is one that Levin felt directly after the fires.
“I reached out to my closest friends and counselors from camp, and we haven’t stopped texting each other since [CHK] caught on fire. We all have been a huge support network for each other,” she said.
Arebalo, who has attended CHK for four years, is not the first in her family to be part of the Hess Kramer family. Her mother and two uncles both spent time at CHK during their childhoods as well. She, like her family members, has experienced the impact that CHK has on campers.
“Hess Kramer has had a huge impact on my life,” Arebalo said. “It is where I met my two best friends and many other people who I talk to every day. I cried and laughed with my camp family [there] and made memories that I will never forget.”
Despite the obstacles presented after the fire, both campers still plan on returning to Hess Kramer after its recovery and eventually becoming counselors. Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps are currently looking to relocate the camp for the coming summer session and plan to rebuild the sites. As they wrote on their website, “There will be camp. We will rebuild. Hess Kramer and [Gindling Hilltop Camp] will endure.”
“I 100 percent have plans to go back to camp as a counselor. I would really love to impact kids’ lives the way my counselors did for me,” Levin said. “I have grown so close with my counselors and I would love to have that same relationship with younger campers.”
Regardless of the physical impact the fire has had on CHK, the lessons learned there will stay with campers long after the end of their camp experience.
“I have grown so much more confident about myself and my abilities as a human being,” Levin said. “I have developed this huge network of fantastic people I get to call my friends, and I know they will always be there for me. Honestly, I learned to become myself at camp. I learned how to grow, how to change, and how to be unapologetically myself.”
Both Levin and Arebalo expressed their gratitude for CHK and the unforgettable experiences they’ve had during their time there.
“If I could say one thing to camp, it would basically be just me thanking it through a lot of tears,” Levin said. “Just me, saying ‘thank you’ over and over.”