Community Rallies Around Angora Fire Victims

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Volunteers sort through mountains of donated clothing, bedding, toothbrushes and diapers at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center.  They’re much needed supplies for evacuees like Joe Puleri. He’s here getting a few things for himself and his two sons.  Puleri had five minutes’ warning to evacuate his house before it burned…and has nothing but the clothes on his back:

“I’m going to try to do what everyone else is doing – trying to get the necessities for living and regroup – I got the kids out the kids are safe the house is gone and everything we own is gone.”

Some at the center don’t know yet if they have a home to go back to.  John Ricafort says his family of 6 is safe, but they couldn’t get back to pick up their dog:

“I’ve tried to see if my street has been affected, and it hasn’t been listed.  The thing is all around me is gone pretty much – not everything but a lot of its gone.  I mean, hopefully, the wind – and luck!”

Ricafort says he’s been touched by the reaction of his neighbors.  The Recreation Center is inundated with donations – and local hotels have offered rooms to evacuees for free. 

Janet Klendinin took time off from work to drop a donation off.

 “I’ve been a part of this community for 71/2 years and I feel for these people here, very much so. They’re like my family.”

Joe Puleri, holding his bag of supplies, says the efforts of people like Kendinin really do make a difference.  He’s lived in the community for 27 years.  He says it’s hard to fathom rebuilding.  He lost a 5-bedroom house he calls a dream home – one he just finished building less than a year ago