Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Family's visit to burned house brings tears
Of all the homes we could have chosen to do our live show and live shots for "Anderson Cooper 360" tonight, we chose the home of Marilyn and Gordon Wood.

We didn't know we were standing at the edge of their driveway reporting from their crumbled burned out home on this San Diego hillside until they showed up in tears.

Escorted by police, they were getting their first glimpse of what was left of their home since they fled on Monday.

Marilyn showed me where their bed used to be and where her washer and dryer were. She tried to help me picture the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that looked out on the valley ... until they were blown to bits in the fire.

Marilyn told me they got out in less than 15 minutes. The flames were at the bottom of their hill -- a three acre drop -- and by the time her husband got dressed, the fire was already on the side of the house.

They left everything behind: passports, wedding rings, memories. They had lived here seven years. It was so sad to see this grown man and woman cry. They had built a life like so many and lost it in just minutes.

Marilyn has had nightmares ever since. Gordon says his wife wakes him up several times a night telling him she thinks the house is on fire. She wants to go see family in Canada to find some peace, but her passport is gone.

They do plan to rebuild here -- the very same spot. The neighborhood, she says, was gorgeous, and it will be again.

-- By Randi Kaye, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 11:09 PM ET
  14 Comments
Good Luck to Mr and Mrs Wood. Im so glad to see the real American Spirit alive and well. And no mention of the government paying for their new house. . .
Posted By Mark L - Las Cruces, NM : 11:29 PM ET
First, my sincere prayers and expression of good will to this couple and to all affected by these devastating fires. Human suffering should bring forth solidarity from everyone, regardless of nationality, race or creed.
Posted By Hunter J, Alpine, Ca. : 11:36 PM ET
All the best to Marilyn and Gordon. They have the right attitude to make it. They'll always have the memories.
Posted By Shannon , Cleveland, Oh : 11:40 PM ET
San Diegans are resilient, have a great spirit and help each other out all the time. They live in a lovely part of the country. A lot of that go-getter attitude has to do with the local leadership and the state leadership.
Posted By Lauren H, San Pedro, Ca. : 11:43 PM ET
As we sit watching the terrifying flames devour southern California, my daughter wondered aloud if Nastrdomus had predicted any of these events in his prophecies.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:26 AM ET
Hi Randi,

Hope you are feeling okay. It must have been so difficult to witness the anguish of these poor people. Our hearts and prayers go out to Gordon & Marilyn. We thank them for sharing their story and dearly hope they can come to Canada soon for some comfort and rest. And hope they can rebuilt very soon.

After watching the California tragedy unfold and now reading this story reminded us of a recent article about how to be prepared in case of a natural disaster and how to be prepared to flee instantly.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management recommends that everyone have a GO BAG – a durable, accessible, easy-to-transport bag containing important essentials, LINK:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/ready/prepared_gobag.shtml

Our family realized we would not be prepared if we ever had to flee. Considering this California emergency, our family can now truly understand the benefit of everyone having a GO BAG ready to grab. (family photos could be put on a disc too and put in the bag)

And thank you so much for your coverage of the miraculous survival story Randi – the family that somehow survived while nearly trapped inside their van. They were so brave, what a terrifying experience for them. Their water hose looked like it was burned to a crisp – it must have held out just long enough for them. What a blessing.

Thank you Randi. I hope you are feeling okay after breathing all the smoke in – please take care from Gina and family in Canada
Posted By Anonymous : 1:12 AM ET
Finally, someone came up with the idea fires could be arson.

Here's another thought: could it be terrorism - so many fires set at once.
Posted By sons : 1:51 AM ET
Yes I'm sure the firefighters are exhausted, but how about some digging into why. San Diego Fire Department has been tragically underfunded for years. Just compare LA. You can find this information just by looking at old news stories.

Thanks. A almost homeless San Diegan.
Posted By Anonymous : 2:41 AM ET
I am really bothered by the quality of the subject matter on your special Planet in Peril. It is obvious to the educated veiwer that you are cherry picking extreme circumstances from the far corners of the globe and blaming global warming as the cause for all the worlds ills. Please choose an animal thats in danger of going extinct other than a polar bear. It would be difficult to find a sane person that doesn't think a polar bear cub is the cutest creature on this planet. You are using that to tug on peoples heart strings and spread your propaganda. Find an example of a creature thats a plague to the human race an see if you get the same sympathy for your cause. Then you show me an island of 2000 people who voluntarily live in a place by your own admission that is one of the most remote place on the planet. Why are you wasting valuable resources worrying about such a special interest group. I am a highly educated and well traveled individual. I do not deny global warming I just do not feel it has any relevant implication to the masses that will occur in our life time. If you want to take up a valuable cause, you should take on big tobacco. I am certain that cigareete smoking adversely effects more lives in a decade than global warming will in the next two hundred years. This country and world for that fact has enough regulation and you helping to promote a global warming agenda will only lead to more. This regulation will effect businesses of all sizes and I promise you the effects will trickle down to Joe public whom you seem so concerned about.



JOHN CARR NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Posted By Anonymous : 3:09 AM ET
it's horrible anytime there is a natural disaster and high prices have to be paid. i would never want to have to decide to leave someone i love just because of weird weather in a sense. i pray all the people affected this past week and hopefully in the years to come things will get better and we will learn along the way. things are replaceable, people are not. just cause they're gone doesn't mean you can't hold on to the memories. i'm glad that people are decided to rebuild because we can't let this beat us.
Posted By jacquelyn : 3:50 AM ET
I think people might forget that there are still some people in line of fire. And I would like to apploud Arnold Swarchenegger on his fantastic response to this crisis.

Thank you

Edward Palonek
EdwardPalonek.ca
Posted By Edward Palonek : 8:32 AM ET
This is tragic enough, and you CNN people are doing your jobs...I guess..but why do your jobs involve intentionally intruding on these people's grief and making them cry?
I have many years of experience in the news business, but I can't imagine selling my humanity and compassion for a television rating.
What reaction do you think these poor people are going to have when they are returning to their homes? Do you think they're going to jump up and down and cheer?
You want to get the tears on camera, and you're not the only one of the reporters who want that. Get your freaking cameras out of people's faces while they're grieving.
What you people are doing amounts to emotional rape in the name of television ratings.
I saw your anchor yesterday talking to a woman who was obviously shaken up, but she was holding it together as she told of her neighbors and friends losing their homes.
SO what did the anchor do? He kept poking at her, and finally asked her if she felt guilty for her home to still be standing, and he got what he was looking for! He made her cry on camera.
Tell us the news, tell us about the fires, tell us about the brave efforts of the firefighters and volunteers, and that's fine. Even show us the devastation.
But respect the grief of those who have lost their homes and everything they own. Do you people really have any humanity left?
Posted By IF_it_bleeds, it_leads? : 9:00 AM ET
Make sure you keep ontop of the insurance companies. I know of a family in Orlando who never got restitution for damages from hurricanes there a few years ago.
Posted By timothywhite2007 : 9:39 AM ET
Randi

I saw your report and felt for this couple. I hope Marilyn finds her wedding ring at least. I can't even imagine what it would be like to lose absolutely everything. I hope all the folks in San Diego will continue to work together and come out of this disaster ok.

Be careful out there and stay safe.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 1:05 PM ET
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