San Diego

Your Corner: San Diego Fire Victims Share Advice for Hurricane Survivors

Ten years after the October 2007 wildfires that ripped through San Diego County, a local family looks back -- and tells other disaster victims to look forward

Staring down Aguamiel Road in Rancho Bernardo in 2017, you’d have no idea the pain that resided there a decade ago.

"It looked like a war zone, almost," said Eva Peters, looking back at pictures of the rubble where her family used to live. "You could barely tell where the chimneys were."

The Peters house and 28 others on that street burned in the October 2007 wildfires, along with more than 1,700 other homes around San Diego County.

The Peters family lost it all.

"We had family heirlooms going back more than 100 years, and those are now gone," said Dale Peters, Eva’s husband.

For the Peters, and hundreds of other San Diego families, digging through the ash was just the beginning of what would be a long road to rebuild their lives.

"It’s hard to explain to people sometimes because they haven’t been through it, and they don’t know," said Dale.

A decade later, the Peters feel for the victims of the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida, knowing well what lies ahead after a natural disaster.

"It’s a flashback," said Dale. "Once they get in, it’s only starting. They just don’t know it yet. And there’s no way to tell them or how to ease them into it."

Eva said it was difficult at first for her to accept help in 2007, but that once they did, they saw the best of humanity.

"People were coming in from all over the place to help and it was rewarding to us to know that people cared," she said.

There are similar stories all over San Diego.

That year, the San Diego Red Cross took in more than $5.3 million in donations for fire victims. Huge piles of supplies showed up at Qualcomm Stadium where, at one point, more than 11,000 people went for shelter after being evacuated from the paths of the wildfires.

"It was really a wonderful thing to see the community come together," said Eva.

Ten years later, the pain has been pushed out of Aguamiel Road.

The Peters and all but one of the homes on their street have been rebuilt. Their advice to hurricane victims is don’t try to go it alone.

"Don’t hesitate to ask for help from anywhere," said Eva. "Considering what you went through, you gotta look for the good stuff out there."

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