Hollye Jacobs and her family had been back in their Montecito, California, home for less than a week when authorities, once again, issued voluntary evacuation warnings—this time for the threat of mudslides. Just weeks before, Hollye’s family had been evacuated and their home had suffered significant smoke damage in the Thomas Fire. Hollye and her family had been living in a temporary home nearby, while smoke remediation work was done at theirs.
“The weeks since the fire were a stressful time for my family, and we were relieved to be back at home,” said Hollye. “So, when the second evacuation order was issued for our neighborhood, we were reluctant to leave but figured, what’s one more night?” While the family slept at a nearby hotel that night, heavy rains turned the hillside into a fast-flowing river of mud, rocks and debris that cascaded down onto their community and right into their home.
Chuck Kronland, a PURE claims professional, was one of Hollye’s first calls. Chuck had assisted Hollye and her family with the smoke remediation work just completed, and he told her he was coming back early from vacation to take care of her and several other PURE members in the area.
It was three weeks before anyone could get in to survey the damage. The lower level of the Jacobs’ home was filled with waist-deep mud and debris. Among the rubble, they recognized fragments of their neighbors’ lives: a family photo and a guitar among them. One neighbor’s car washed up inside another neighbor’s pool. Far worse, more than 20 neighbors had lost their lives. “The whole town was under a blanket of trauma,” said Hollye.
Hollye felt like one of the lucky ones. “We were safe and our home was still standing. So many others in the community had the added stress and anxiety that come with having to find resources and negotiate contractors,” said Hollye. “I didn’t have to do that. I had Chuck and I had PURE.”
As repairs began and Chuck discussed ways that the Jacobs’ could make their home more resilient to future damage, Hollye was trying to do the same for her whole community.
“I needed meaning and purpose after all of this, so I became involved with The Partnership for Resilient Communities, a local organization formed to help Santa Barbara County mitigate damage from natural disasters,” said Hollye. “We all need to come together in times like these to create solutions.” The Partnership has already raised over $4 million and is in the process of installing steel nets and other specially engineered devices to prevent destruction from future mudslides.
“After so much sadness and damage, seeing the first of the nets installed in our Montecito canyons made my heart leap with hope and joy,” said Hollye. “The resilience of our community inspires me every day.”
Now that Hollye’s home has been fully restored, she’s focused on moving forward. “After 55 weeks of being displaced after the Thomas Fire and mudslides, we are home sweet home,” said Hollye. “The lessons of this year have been extraordinary and unimaginable. What I know with absolute certainty is that in times of difficulty, there are always opportunities for growth, healing, hope, love and—of course—silver linings. Looking for hope and resilience in the midst of the darkness is and always has been my philosophy.”
Helping Members Become More Resilient
Recovery after a large loss isn’t just about replacing or repairing damaged property, it’s also about addressing the emotional needs that arise for our members in the wake of these traumatic events. Their home, which served as a place of security, comfort and safety, is now gone or forever changed and the normality of daily life is disrupted. There is added anxiety over the uncertainty of the claims process and of not knowing “what is next.”
Even though every loss has unique elements, our experts have seen enough large losses to help answer the question of “what is next.” Our Large Loss Guide gives our members visibility into the process of rebuilding and recovery and can help reduce uncertainty by offering answers to common questions. It is intended to supplement the one-on-one, personal assistance provided by their claims adjuster and PURE Member Advocate®. Our claims adjusters are also highly trained in emotional intelligence and human resiliency to help identify and respond to the emotional needs of our members in trying moments.