The Post: Fire Updates
We are posting news about the fire and our recovery as soon as we have definitive information. Check back regularly for updates.
The most recent posts appear at the top. The list on the right may help you locate specific posts.
We would like to make it possible for you to connect with your favorite Harbin therapists. Though sessions won’t be available at Harbin for quite some time, it may be possible to rediscover these gifted healers in another time and space. See Jim Gilkeson’s link below for information on Harbin Practitioners. http://jimgilkeson.com/harbin-practitioners_429.html
Over the last 10 days, Harbin employees have been returning to Lake County as various neighborhoods have been opened to residents. As you can imagine, this has been an emotional time for us. Many have returned to piles of ash where their homes once stood, while others found their homes intact, but the surrounding neighborhood destroyed. The charred hills in the distance remind us of the extent of the firestorm.
Harbin itself has been transformed. Although a few random structures still stand, most buildings and all resident housing on property have been destroyed. The pools still exist, as do the springs, but the plumbing and treatment systems will need major work. Until an assessment of the damage is complete, and professional cleanup crews are dispatched, the area is off limits due to major safety concerns.
As devastating as the losses have been, it’s quite heartening to see the determination, compassion and support that this event has unleashed in our community. Chance meetings in town are major reunions. Tears are often accompanied by laughter. Some are planning to move on, so goodbyes often carry more meaning. Hugs last a bit longer than a few weeks ago.
There are many questions unanswered at this time, but we are moving forward toward a new future for Harbin and our community. We’ll keep you posted.
Today, President Obama declared a major disaster for the areas affected by the Valley fire. This will release federal funding to help the individual victims as well as state and local government. Individual assistance includes grants for temporary housing, home repairs and uninsured-property losses, etc. This is very good news for many Harbin residents, especially those who lost housing. Thanks, President Obama!
The news of the Valley fire has spread worldwide. We Harbin residents and employees, nearly 300 of us, have had to leave our sacred land. We left so quickly many people only had the clothes on their backs, some of our animals were left behind.
We are very sorry that we cannot provide an update on the conditions on our property, structures, or animals at this time. Although some Lake County residents have been allowed to briefly visit their property, fire officials are still refusing to allow us to enter the Harbin valley due to very dangerous conditions, including falling trees, bridge destruction, down power lines, etc.
As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating for us, especially after viewing videos and photographs posted online by individuals who trespassed on our property. Authorities will be arresting anyone attempting to enter the area, or crossing CHP blockades.
We have not been given an estimation on when we may visit for our initial inspection. Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to gain safe access to our home, and will immediately report on our finding here, and on our Facebook page.
Harbin Hot Springs was evacuated on Saturday afternoon, just before the Valley Fire advanced into our main valley. Although an official tally is underway, we have good reason to believe that all guests and residents were off property when the wildfire hit. This is a miracle, and a testament to our staff and guests who reacted swiftly in an unprecedented and dangerous situation.
Current efforts are focused on the well-being of our residents and local staff, as many of us have lost our homes and possessions. Once we leave the area shelters and are allowed to return to the area, financial support will be the most pressing need for individuals. We ask guests and friends to check this website or our Facebook page to receive updates on places that can process donations.
Photos and video have circulated online showing the destruction of the main retreat buildings, and the area is unrecognizable. That said, it appears that the historic pools still exist. Beyond that, we cannot confirm specifics or estimate damages until we are allowed to return ourselves.
Obviously, Harbin is closed until further notice, and all future reservations have been canceled. For security and safety reasons, please do not attempt to visit Harbin now. Local authorities will be detaining any trespassers, as this is private property, and is still our home.
Our retreat center is one of the oldest hot springs of its kind in California, and it has risen from the ashes of fires in the past. Those who have visited Harbin know that it has always been much more than a collection of wooden structures. As a result, there has been an incredible outpouring of support for our community, and generous offers to help us rebuild. Our church and community have been stewards of this land for more than 40 years, and we plan to continue in our service here for years to come.
This is an emotional time for us, and those who love this place. For now, we ask our friends to visualize one of their favorite “Harbin moments” from a past retreat — a massage, workshop, meal, yoga class, hike, temple meditation or hot spring soak — and take a deep breath. Please know that we are confident that Harbin Hot Springs can move forward with your prayers, support, and encouragement.
Middletown and Harbin will likely remain closed to non-emergency personnel for a few days, with the governor issuing a state of emergency for Lake & Napa counties. Until that time, we have no specific reports on damage to our center.
Harbin’s focus right now is to make sure that our residents and employees have shelter, food, and are safely out of harm’s way. Many of us are staying at friends’ homes in the bay area, while others are housed at the evacuation centers in Calistoga and Kelseyville.
— We are trying to coordinate a contact list, but for now, the best way to reach residents is by mobile phone numbers or e-mail contact info you already have.
— We will eventually coordinate a drop-off location for donations of needed items for residents, but until then, check the Lake County EOS page at https://www.facebook.com/LakeCountyOES for suggestions.
— Harbin residents with specific needs are encouraged to post here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1641872029431574/
They may also want to check the private resident FB page.
We appreciate your well wishes, but please do not overwhelm the sites above with non-essential posts. Thanks!
A wildfire forced evacuation of Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, and neighboring areas on 9/12. All reservations have been cancelled. (If you were evacuated during your stay, watch here for info on refunds.) We will not have information on damage to our center until the fire is under control and residents are allowed to return. Please send your prayers to local residents and the fire crews.