Kindness And Refuge Amidst The Smoke

Qualcomm Stadium's regular tenants, the San Diego Chargers, were displacd by the wildfires in California. They're now training in Arizona.

Instead, the stadium is now home to as many as 15,000 evacuees. One woman CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to described it as Woodstock without the drugs.

Obviously, there are major concerns, but people there are making the best of it.

From afar it looks like a massive tailgate party. And inside, the mood is much the same, reports.

One site looked like a little playground

"Yes, music and coloring and some jump ropes some puzzles," one evacuee told Couric.

Tons of donated food - even ice cream bars are handed out by an army of volunteers.

"The people here have been phenomenal," said Barbara Anderson, an evacuee.

Anderson, her two sons, two cats and Maggie the dog have been camping in the Qualcomm parking lot - a situation made bearable by the generosity of others.

"They come by every fifteen minutes, 'do you need water, do you need food ... do you need blankets?'" Anderson said. "It's not as bad as the people that went through Katrina though, and that's what goes through my mind."

During Katrina, New Orleans' attempt to shelter people in a sports stadium went terribly wrong. The Superdome turned into a small city of violence, filth and chaos.

But even with an estimated 10,000 people sleeping in Qualcomm, the stadium is getting high marks.

"We have too much food," Evelyn Caton said. "Every time we turn around, someone's offering us something to drink, offering us food."

Even the Chargers' practice field has been turned into a pasture for large pets - a godsend for Joanne Gilbert and her three goats, six dogs, two snakes and a rabbit.

"It makes it much easier," she said. "I couldn't leave my animals behind."

But the kindness of strangers only goes so far.

"Just the unknown is the hardest," said evacuee Celeste D'Souza.

And for the D'Souza family, this is still a very tough time ... waiting and wondering if the smoke that colors the sunset - might be their house on fire.
  • Katie Couric

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