Unlikely heroes have risen from the flames and ashes of the California wine country wildfires, and Julayne Smithson is among them.
“Julayne, I’m sorry, but your home is not going to make it,” a colleague told her. Then she looked out the window and saw her complex engulfed in flames. She managed to run over and grab a few things, but then she came back and kept working.
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Santa Rosa, where Julayne Smithson works, was evacuated on Sunday night and remains closed. But some nurses got transferred to other hospitals where they kept working. Looking at the wreckage of her former home, she told KRON 4, “It’s so much area and so many people have been displaced, and have faced tragedy that it’s almost unreal.”
When a coworker told Julayne Smithson the California wine country fires were heading for her home, she didn’t believe it.
“And then one of the nurses came up to me and put her arm around me and said, ‘Julayne, I’m sorry, but your home is not going to make it.’ And I looked at her and I thought, ‘What is she talking about?’ Because I just live right there. So, I went to the window, and I saw the complex there was engulfed.”
But she kept working, taking care of her patients, and helping them to safety. Julayne Smithson explained, “We were busy because our patients were very sick.”
She’d just bought the house three weeks ago after renting it for several months. She and her husband — who lives in Indiana and was supposed to move in this week — had planned to settle down there. Now their plans are up in the air. She’s staying with one of her managers and working at a Kaiser in San Rafael.
For now, she’s strong because she has to be. As for what she’ll do next, Julayne Smithson’s focused on her patients for the time being. She declared, “I just can’t let myself think about it right now. I just need to keep working because that’s the priority.”
Her friends have set up a fundraising page at YouCaring.Com. It would have been better if we’d adequately funded our Forest Service so they could do the forestry management essential for keeping these fires from getting out of control, but it’ll have to do.
Watch: Kron 4 reports on hero nurse Julayne Smithson after the California wine country fires torch her house.
Featured image: Video screengrabs via KRON 4.