Beauty for Ashes: Hope after Devastation in Paradise

In November of 2018, residents of Paradise, California, endured the nation’s deadliest wildfire as it swept through the town of 27,000. An article from Deseret News stated that nearly 10,000 homes and hundreds of beautiful buildings including businesses, churches, schools, and museums were lost.

Families lost so much. Many were at a loss of what to do, not knowing where or how they would begin their search for a new place to live.

One resident, while visiting the scene of her now destroyed home, found her kitchen sink amongst the rubble. A cereal bowl and spoon still sat inside.

“Here’s our kitchen sink,” she says in a video from the Church News. “And the spoon in the bowl from breakfast the morning of November 8th.”

“It’s so ugly,” another resident said, choked up, standing in front of the remnants of her home. “It used to be beautiful.”

Despite the destruction and sorrow, Latter-day Saints who had lost everything themselves could be found working hard and helping others in any way they could. Communities rallied together to provide for each other. Families stood shoulder to shoulder in stake centers getting resources together. Clothing donations and food donations piled up to be sent to those who needed them.

“I have seen so much good and so much outreach with perfect strangers,” one woman said. “And that truly has restored my faith in humanity.”

“It’s interesting that the people who lost the most gave the most. They’re still giving.”
— President Russell M. Nelson

President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy Watson Nelson, visited Paradise to talk with Latter-day Saints and community members affected by the tragedy. He noticed the rallying spirit of the community and the incredible outreach from Saints who had lost everything themselves.

“It’s interesting that the people who lost the most gave the most. They’re still giving,”  said President Nelson.

“That’s the beauty from that ashes,” said one woman in the video. “Is that these people, they love one another, they care about each other. I know that this place will be beautiful again.”

“People are really living as Christ would live. It’s one of the most amazing stories of ministering in a higher and holier way than I’ve ever seen,” said President Nelson.

The hope and resilience demonstrated by the Saints in Paradise shine a positive light on a devastating situation. These selfless individuals offer an example to us all as we strive to minister and serve in our own communities.

“That’s the beauty from that ashes, is that these people, they love one another, they care about each other. I know that this place will be beautiful again.”

It is during these times that we must remember the counsel we have often received to always be prepared.

Fires—like the one in California—can quickly become deadly and all-consuming. While not all natural disasters can be solved by emergency preparation, we also recognize that in many cases, preparing for unplanned events has helped in devastating circumstances. By offering a wide range of survival kits and emergency tools and equipment, we hope to provide assistance to those interested in building and/or updating their emergency kits. Those who are interested can find helpful emergency preparation supplies at DeseretBook.com.