Readers React: Nursing home workers are already unsung heroes. Those in Paradise showed what bravery and dedication really are

Displaced by the Camp fire, coach Sheila Craft gets a hug as the Paradise High School Bobcats hold practice at the Chico High School gymnasium on Nov. 15.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: After a week of learning the heart-wrenching statistics of homes destroyed and lives lost in the Camp, Hill and Woolsey wildfires, your front-page coverage Saturday of yet another heartbreaking facet of these calamities gave me pause.

The story of Sheila Craft of Paradise, Calif. — and the bravery and dedication she showed in evacuating her nursing home residents — was so compelling that I had to pause while reading the article. I was overwhelmed with emotion while following her roller coaster of challenges, and relieved and jubilant as she conquered each step of an unthinkable and impossible chain of events.

To put her life at such clear risk while also knowing that her own family might never see her again is a true tale of leadership and heroism. I’ve no doubt that if not for her decisiveness and selflessness, the 91 elderly and ill residents of the Cypress Meadows nursing home, as well as their many caretakers, would have perished.

Thank you for making me and your readers aware of Sheila Craft and her strength and humanity.


Diane Graham, Santa Barbara


To the editor: The dedicated, quick-witted, caring, selfless staff of Cypress Meadows performed a heroic feat.

Under normal conditions, the daily nursing and custodial care that a residential facility must provide those no longer able to care for themselves requires vigilance, patience, energy and a wealth of kindness. The best nursing home caregivers in our communities are unsung heroes.


But to mobilize the residents under these dire circumstances and successfully evacuate them is awe-inspiring. By executing their duties without regard to their own predicament and performing admirably, the Cypress Meadows staff became heroes.

I know where I am heading if my own mountain-neighboring community is threatened by fire — to our local assisted living facility to help the staff and residents evacuate.

Sarah D. Moyed, Sisters, Ore.


To the editor: The citizens of Paradise join the mounting number of climate refugees in our own country. Paradise is just the latest city flattened by fire, extreme weather or floods.

As climate scientists urgently warned for decades, the most vulnerable and marginalized would experience the impacts of climate change first. The surreal images of sick and elderly people shivering in tents are beyond heartbreaking.

The president, a climate change denialist, rambled about “forest management” and berated California in his first public statements on the fires. His visit to this state was not helpful.

Wendy Blais, North Hills



To the editor: While everyone is looking for the causes of the California wildfires, we should be looking to architects, developers and engineers to build houses that are much more fire-resistant than what we have now.

Builders need to use more concrete, tiles and bricks. The Romans figured it out only a few thousand years ago after Emperor Nero’s fire. Since then, Europe has built almost everything out of stone, bricks, concrete and tiles.

These materials are definitely not earthquake-proof, but since the “Big One” may not happen in our lifetime, it would be wise to recognize what the clear, imminent and constant danger really is. In a state where there’s a rule for everything when building anything new, changing the guidelines for what materials are used is imperative.

Michele Castagnetti, Venice

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