Displaced Camarillo family finds help in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Thousands of families have been displaced from their homes because of the devastating fires raging across California. Some are on pins and needles waiting to hear if their house is okay. Some have nothing left.

From the tragic mass shooting Thursday morning to the roaring wildfires that started the very same day, one community was rocked to the core.

“You hear tragedy that happens and crisis that happens, but it’s someplace else,” said Clayton Coates, Evacuee from Camarillo. “Now this was familiar. This was a place that we knew about. These were people that we knew.”

The Coates family started their Thursday with news of the massacre in the quiet community of Thousand Oaks, just a couples miles from their home.

“Break your heart is a phrase that just doesn’t justify that deep pain and anguish you feel when you see true loss,” said Clayton. “Lives will never be the same.”

Their day ended with flames.

“Thursday started with tragedy from the shooting, to paying our respects, to trying to help people cope, to putting together a video about grief to all of the sudden fires coming our way,” said Clayton. “We’re evacuating.”

The Woolsey and Hill fire ripped through parts of Los Angeles, including Camarillo in Ventura County, where the Coates family lives. Their family of eight was forced to evacuate Thursday afternoon.

“It’s so overwhelming. You can’t wrap your mind all around it at that time,” said Allison Coates, Wife of Clayton. “You’re just going minute by minute, not knowing what to expect next. Will our neighborhood be safe? Will we get to go home tonight?”

Clayton and Allison are safe, staying in San Diego, but they painted a vivid picture, explaining the roaring flames and the dark ominous cloud of smoke overtaking their neighborhood, their home.

“There was meat for dinner that was out on the counter and things that Allison was going to prepare. I just left them,” said Clayton. “I just wanted to know where my family was. I wanted us to be together because that’s what’s on my heart. That’s the most important thing.”

They escaped what looked like the Apocalypse with nothing but what they had on and no plan of where to go.

“My stomach got like a bunch of butterflies in it and my heart just like sunk,” said Tatum Coates, Daughter of Clayton and Allison.

San Diegans did what they do — Welcomed them with open arms.

“They’ve been so good to us. I just can’t go on enough about how the community has come together, but it’s just the beginning,” said Clayton.

The family said their going to be okay. Their house is still standing, but their hearts break for the people who have lost everything and have nowhere to call home.

“I just can’t put into words,” said Allison. “It’s indescribable the pain they will forever be dealing with.”

“People’s lives have been forever changed and so the community together, I believe we’re just seeing the beginning of the community of Thousand Oaks, of Calabasas, of Camarillo, the community of Southern California,” said Clayton. “I believe we are just seeing the beginning of something really beautiful that can come out of something so tragic.”

Some of the evacuations have been lifted and the Coates family will return to their home Monday night.

Categories: Local San Diego News, Wildfires