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.