On Dec 4th, 2017, the Thomas fire forced 27,000 people in Ventura County to evacuate their homes, some of whom were NPAA students. The Thomas fire consumed over 281,893 acres and wasn’t fully contained until Jan 12, 2018. It caused a fire fighter fatality, burned down over 1063 buildings, damaged over 60 buildings, and injured many people.

For most people heavily affected by the fire, the flames came very close but didn’t call for evacuations. “If my house is Starbucks, the fire is conejo,” said senior Genesis Aguilar about the distance of the fire to his house. Even though an evacuation wasn’t mandatory yet, precautions were put in place by the Aguilar family. “We had our bags packed and everything ready to leave.”

For some unlucky few, evacuations were necessary. Seth Davis, an evacuated student recalled, “We were evacuated because the fire was rolling right up the top of a hill that we were at the bottom of. When we left we could see flames poking over the top of the hill.”

El Nino Storms

As expected, the evacuation had complications. “We left our house, packing a change of clothes and our school backpack, we went to pick up my grandma down the street. Then we drove south to find a hotel to stay in. We kept heading south because all the hotels along the way were full,” explained Matthew Negley, senior.

But the fire wasn’t the only need for evacuation. Floods ravaged the city of Ventura. Approximately 21,000 people evacuated because of the floods, and there were 13 reported deaths. “The floods were very scary and we all felt deja vu for having to evacuate again,” expressed Molly Gram, junior. She was the only NPAA student to have been evacuated both for the fires and the flash flooding.

Southern California has had more than its fair share of natural disasters, from extreme drought, fires, and flooding. There is no doubt that SoCal residents weary from them all, but are there is hope that the worst is behind them.