Two Canadian snowbirds, Marie and Frank, sought refuge at Golden Gate Community Center in the aftermath of the recent southwest Florida brushfire. A burning scent lingers in the air. The heat from the ground can be felt through the soles of your shoes. The atmosphere in the aftermath of the forest fire is surreal and overwhelmingly eerie. An astounding 7,500-acres were touched by the brushfire in Collier County. Dozens of local homes fell victim to the blaze, but this lucky pair dodged the destruction of the flames. Frank and Marie recognize that they were among the lucky ones, with no immediate damage done to their home.
Sitting in the back of a crossover SUV, cradling her toy-like Yorkshire terrier as if it were a baby, Marie expresses gratitude for her family’s safety.”What’s important is my dog is safe, my sister-in-law’s safe, everyone that we love and care for [are] safe, and that’s the main thing.” Despite damage done to the area surrounding her home, Marie admits that safety is priority, and material things are much less important in times of crisis.
Marie’s husband, Frank, has braved numerous hurricanes. Evacuating his home is second nature. He’s even worked as a volunteer. Despite his experience with natural disasters in the past, Frank noted the fire was an entirely new experience and remains thankful for local firefighters and their selfless work, “I feel for all the guys working out there everyday, doing their job.”