Public Media Arts Hub

An Oregon family's Brief But Spectacular take on surviving a wildfire


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Judy Woodruff: Wildfires have scorched much of the American West this year.

Jocksana Corona and her family in Talent, Oregon, were among the residents forced to flee.

Our Brief But Spectacular team reached them at the Girl Scout facility where they have been living.

Jocksana Corona: On the morning of September 8, I didn't sleep very well because it was very windy. I got a text from an emergency alert system saying that there was a fire in Ashland and to take precautions.

It looked way too close. And then that's when my neighbors said, oh, no, no, the fire department is going to take care of it. And then I said, no, this wind is going to screw us over.

So, I ran inside. I called my husband. It took him 20 minutes to get home to us. He ran inside and got our kids' birth certificates, our passports. And he said, we got to go.

We evacuated our house by 12:05 p.m. We have lived in our home for 17 years. Me and my husband, next month, we will be married 17 years. So we pretty much bought that house five months before we got married. So that's the only home I have ever known.

I was born in Mexico. And my family moved to L.A. in 1989. My legal status is that I have DACA. Out of our mobile home park, which had 100 homes, 90 burned.

I felt like there was no information really going on by authorities. I felt that most of the information I was getting was from other people's Facebook posts.

I can't imagine what it was like for my neighbors who stayed waiting for that warning to come. That warning never came.

My daughter, every friend she has lost their home. My son only knows three friends who didn't lose their home. The next day, one of my husband's cousins sent me a text and a picture. The picture pretty much showed where my house would have been. There was nothing recognizable. Everything was just ashes.

I'm still a little scared. I'm still -- I'm still wondering how long it's going to be before I can feel safe. We're staying at a local Girl Scout facility where we were offered shelter. And it's hard, because our housing market here in Southern Oregon was already really low.

I don't want to move anywhere else. My kids have been in the same school district since they were little, I was PTA president of our elementary school. I did a lot of advocacy work for undocumented families. That is home.

Helping is not what I do. It's who I am. I was known in my community as someone that people can reach out to if they needed questions or resources for undocumented families. And I feel like my community has supported me 100 percent because of the work that I give back.

When we lost everything, people reached out to me. And I never thought that people who I had helped in the past would be the ones who would be helping me today.

I have had so much support from people.

My name is Jocksana Corona, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on surviving a wildfire.

Judy Woodruff: What a story of courage.

And we certainly hope all that help continues.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.