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Guest post: Not all back to normal

Scott Lewis is executive editor at voiceofsandiego.org. He is among members of the community we have asked to post thoughts, news and follow-ups to the wildfire story.

Yesterday I wrote a column about a San Diego resident named Cheryl Hamano and the challenge of measuring a disaster.

I had met Hamano and her family four years ago after they lost their home in the Cedar Fire. It was by sheer luck that the family had been able to evacuate during that firestorm. Their daughter had gotten up early on a Sunday morning to go to the bathroom. She had smelled smoke and looked outside. Another teenager was running in the street and told her to get out.

The family left just before flames consumed their house. Cheryl had no time to grab her purse. She was left with no official proof of who she was.

Quite a story.

Since then, the family rebuilt. But the marriage dissolved -- the stress of reconstruction didn't help. Cheryl had to move into a rented house in the same neighborhood.

And, this week, she found herself being evacuated again. The flames stayed away from her home but she said the experience of fleeing the fire was much more orderly this time around. She had plenty of warning and plenty of time to collect the most valuable of possessions.

She said dealing with the insurance company was more difficult than she had hoped. She said that unlike her neighbors, the family's new house was not much bigger than the one they lost. After the divorce, she had to sell and move out dropping the price over and over again in a slumping real estate market.

She said that the stress the fire caused has never really gone away.

"People think once you rebuild from the fire that it's all back to normal," she said. "But it's not -- not always."

-- Scott Lewis

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