Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Hello. My name is Nidia Stubblefield and my family and I live in Bastrop. The week following September 4th was immensely stressful for my little family. We spent a week of uncertainty scared for many of our family members who had to evacuate, some running around town trying to find lost pets, three to four families jammed into a two bedroom house and tensions running high. Their house might have made it Tuesday but that didn't mean it would be there Wednesday or Thursday or Friday. It was a week where all our children stayed home from school unable to at least play outside because of the intense smoke and myself trying very hard to hide the fear and tears. It was a week of subtle and reassuring conversations with my children to explain to them that their daddy, who is a paramedic in town, was ok even though they hadn't seen him in 24, 48, 72 hours and would eventually not see him again until 7 days later and that all the airplanes and helicopters that seemed to them to be flying just inches above their house were there to help us.

My home, my family, my husband the paramedic were all safe and sound at the end of this ordeal. We know at least 10 families that are either friends or family that lost their homes and are on the road to rebuild their life so their ordeal is not over but today I write to you on behalf of my brother-in-law and his family. My brother-in-law Cory is a hard-working man. He works as a welder at Griffin Industries. His wife Naomi works at the Hyatt Regency Resort and they have a sweet three year-old named CJ. They had just moved into a duplex in Tahitian Village in early August and were excited to be in a new place they could call home. When the fires started and they were evacuated, they were blessed to be put up at the Hyatt like all the other staff that had been evacuated but because of the stress of all the activity in town and the uncertainty of not knowing if their home and all their belongings were still there, Naomi refused to leave the Hyatt. Late in the week, my husband was able to go to their street (since he was in the ambulance) and finally got the answer they were looking for. The house was gone and their would be nothing to even sift through. It was all gone. All of Naomi's jewelry of her late grandmother, Cory's items from when he served in the military, and all of CJ's toys. Everything.

Cory, Naomi, and CJ are on the road to recovery. They are getting back on their feet but it hasn't been easy. It was weeks of struggle trying to register for help since they hadn't been at the new house long enough to even change the address on their IDs yet, settling utility accounts, replacing lost important documents. They are very grateful for all the help they have received but no matter how "gently used", no one likes to wear someone else's hand-me-downs or be away from the comforts of home for very long. Today, the family is settling into their new apartment but even that is not as joyous as you would assume. The fact that there were so many families displaced made it near to impossible to find a new home within their price range and in a decent part of town. They finally had to settle for the bottom of the barrel apartment complex in town that is clearly not the environment they hoped to raise CJ in, infested with roaches and shady characters all about.

Please help me get them to the concert. I have seen this ordeal and the stress of it change them and almost break their spirit. I know it would mean the world to them if for just one night they could forget, relax their shoulders for just a second, and take a deep breath. I already bought some tickets for my husband and myself since originally I was told by Michelle and the facebook page that there would be some exclusively for fire victims but I would gladly give mine to Cory and Naomi if I have to. I really hope you can help me bring a smile to their face.

Here is our contact info. I pray I hear from you.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Last night there was a football game where during halftime, they would have a ceremony to honor all the first responders. There was such a great and strong sense of unity and community that filled the stadium.
Before halftime, I went to the potty to be sure I avoided the lines during halftime and to make sure I was back in my seat before the presentation. On my way back I got caught up in a sea of firefighters as they came down from the bleachers to go down onto the field. There were hundreds of them. Most of them looked exhausted and were covered in soot. I couldn't help but cry to think that all these men and women had come out and allowed us to show our gratitude when I am sure they would have much rather have gone straight their hotel to take a hot shower and go to sleep and start all over again tomorrow until this war is over.
They remind me of soldiers. A soldier may argue with me about the level of heroism but these men and women are voluntarily walking into a war with mother nature in defense of people they have never even met. And they too do not know if they will be home safe and sound at the end of their trip.

Thank you.

Monday, September 12, 2011


It was surreal. I've never known a more appropriate time to use such a word but last week was definitely surreal like a horrible Armageddon movie. As the week went on I wanted so badly to remember every little detail and thought that raced through my mind, but I couldn't and it was just exhausting.
Sunday afternoon we were driving back from our visit to Houston. It was probably around 3pm. When we were on I-10 we noticed a lot of smoke and instantly knew there must be an ugly grass fire somewhere. We traveled on. As we approached Smithville, we saw a lot of smoke coming from the direction of 21. Matt instantly knew that it was going to turn into something terrible. He had mentioned time and time again that a fire in the pines with layers and layers of dry pine needles on the ground and dry pine trees all around would one day spell catastrophe for our little town. As we approached the intersection of Tahitian Drive and 71, Matt had to come to a screeching halt as fire trucks came at us and headed where we had just come from. The fire was about to cross south over 71 and we had just missed it.
The week was full of ups and downs. We were blessed to not have to evacuate and not have to fear the worst but I couldn't help but worry for my family, my friends, my town. Evacuate, come home, evacuate, come home. Contained, not contained. 300 homes lost, 600, 700, 1400 homes destroyed.

From our house you could see the black smoke by 21 and 95.
From our house you could hear and see the Blackhawks and planes flying by, so low you'd think you could touch them.
From our house you could smell the smoke that filled the air and it wasn't safe to leave the house.
In front of every other house and in each parking lot in town there is an RV parked indefinitely until a family finds a home.
From my house I worried about Matt and that he may end up in a dangerous situation trying to help someone else.
In our town, there is a little city of tents and RVs from all the insurance companies filing claims for people.
In our town, there are hundreds of firefighters all over the place eating, resting, buying essentials.

Pets have died. Houses have vanished. Our teachers and the children I see day in and day out have lost their homes. The waitress at the restaurant, the walmart employee. It gives you a whole new perspective on the word homeless. Insurance or no insurances, renters or owners, it doesn't matter, they are now homeless. Can you even picture 1400 homes? I can't. Out of no where I'd remember one more person to add to the list of people I needed to check up on and even today, 7 days later, friends are still just finding out if there home is still standing.
I saw 5 green Forest Service trucks drive by full of firefighters and all i could do was cry. I cried because they reminded me of soldiers going in to fight a war, fighting for us and they didn't even know us. I cried when i found out Janet's house was spared because the stress of thinking it was gone for days before that was just too much to bare. There are moments in your life that really break your heart. I know for all of us September 11th will forever be one of those moments. For our little town of Bastrop and the town of Smithville, September 4th will also be one of those moments. I was blessed. Blessed that my little family was safe and unaffected but I hurt for every one else. I hurt for the dozen of friends and family that I know are stricken with sadness and fear of having to rebuild their home all over. I have never been more afraid and sad. Never.