It has been nearly two years since Charlotte Roman’s house burned in the Witch fire and, while the rebuilding of her home is underway, more volunteers could help speed the construction, said Dan Woodruff, assistant director of Christ in Action (CIA), the faith-based first responder group that came to Roman’s rescue.
Woodruff, a Ramona resident, said the plumbing is in and the concrete foundation has been poured for the 2,800-square-foot home on East Washington Street. The slabs are partially poured, he said, and soon they will be framing the house.
“It’s going very well,” he said, but added, “We are doing this on a volunteer basis.”
Woodruff said he is hoping to finish the house within a year, which is possible if more people can “jump on board” to help.
The volunteers working on the house include several Ramona contractors. Woodruff, who owns a construction business, Woodruff’s Trenching Inc., has been working at the site. John Christensen, he said, helped pour the concrete foundation, and Bob Roed did the plumbing.
Paul Ransom of Ransom Pump Supply re-connected the well and pump to supply water, and Doug Walters provided some electrical work.
In addition, Woodruff said Mitch Burch of Burch Construction has offered to do the drywall—donate the board, hang it and texture it. Ramona Disposal has donated a dumpster and has been really helpful, he added.
Woodruff said they are trying to buy materials with the insurance money that Roman had. One of the reasons CIA chose to help Roman rebuild was because she was “way underinsured,” said Woodruff. She is also a single mom with two young children.
“There were a lot of circumstances that drew us to her,” he said.
Roman said she never thought her house would burn. When she evacuated with her children, they took just a suitcase with some clothes and a few other items. When they returned to their home, it was “pretty much complete ash,” she said.
While Roman said she didn’t think it would take over two years to build the house, she noted that it’s a different economy from the one after the fires. One local contractor who was helping to rebuild had to close his shop and find a full-time job, she said.
“Things have changed,” said Roman, but they are moving forward and she believes God is pulling it all together.
Besides losing her house, Roman’s life has also been affected by the economy. She owns a business called Treekeeper that provides tree services such as trimming, removing, stump grinding, and cutting back brush. Business has been slower, she noted, but “we’re still hanging on.”
Roman has been renting a home with her 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. but the house went into foreclosure and already has a buyer so she will have to move. Still, she said, she looks around at the foreclosures and other difficult situations in people’s lives and says, “I am very fortunate.”
CIA helped about 12 different families after the Witch fire in 2007, said Woodruff. The nonprofit group, which was founded by Denny Nissley in Virginia, offers disaster relief as part of its ministry. CIA established a West Coast division in January 2008 so the group can respond to disasters on the West Coast in hours, rather than days, explained Woodruff.
Woodruff serves as the West Coast operations manager and is working on building a facility to manufacture the first-responder equipment that CIA has on the East Coast. Such equipment includes a mobile cooking trailer that can serve 15,000 meals a day, a washing trailer, a shower trailer, and four very large tents. The tents, he said, are used to distribute items to people in need and provide a place to eat.
Being in the construction business and owning a ranch aids Woodruff in the manufacturing of such equipment. To have the equipment stationed in San Diego County will make “the response time quite a bit quicker,” he said. Woodruff added that he recently received a $1,000 donation from a church for his manufacturing facility.
CIA is also providing first responder training and is looking at establishing other locations in the United States.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering time or services to help rebuild Roman’s house, or to make a donation for Christ in Action first-responder equipment may contact Woodruff at 619-572-6779.