Mr. Frank Ekblad’s family luckily survived the Camp Fire. Mr. and Mrs. Ekblad came to Chico’s Disaster Recovery Center to receive their cash card assistance from Tzu Chi’s volunteers. Mrs. Ekblad aimlessly asked her husband, “Where is our Tzu Chi blanket?” Frank reluctantly replied, “I gave the blanket to our neighbor.”
A Tzi Chi volunteer overheard the conversation and quickly interjected to assist them and lighten the mood. She said, “You may ask your neighbor to come to the DRC to receive a blanket.”
Frank then finally unveiled the many difficulties his neighbor faced following the fire.
The neighbor had many pets, including horses, cows, snakes, and cats. When the fire took hold of the city of Paradise, a mandatory evacuation order was issued. The neighbor shunned the evacuation order and stayed in the fire zone to take care of his pets. Some of his animals died in the inferno. Following the fire, he was living with his remaining pets in the closed-off area.
The neighbor was unable to leave the area and leave his pets alone to come to DRC. By leaving the cordoned area, there would be no guarantee that he could return. Then there would be no one to be able to take care of his pets. “I smuggled some living necessities, including a Tzu Chi blanket to him,” Frank said.
Volunteers then realized why Frank had not been straightforward, and so he was replenished with another blanket. Coincidentally, it was Frank’s birthday. Mrs. Ekblad and Tzu Chi volunteers stood in a circle to sing Happy Birthday to him. That day was the happiest day for Frank since the fire broke out. Frank wore a satisfied smile that day and left the DRC with a new blanket.