Thursday, November 1, 2007

Diamond in the rough

Posted @ 1:36 PM

After he lost his house in the 2003 Cedar fire, Brett Fitzpatrick started preparing for the next one that he knew would come.

He bought yellow slicker pants and sturdy rubber boots. He made mental lists of all the hard-earned lessons about loss and domestic resurrection through rebuilding.

Being a teacher, Fitzpatrick offered his lessons in disaster by volunteering at the Rancho Bernardo Help Center, the one-stop center organized by community groups and government officials to aid fire victims.

Fitzpatrick and his 9-year-old daughter, Megan, have been pitching in by sifting through the rubble of John and Pierrette Wormsley's home in Rancho Bernardo. The couple in their late '70s felt too shakey to dig themselves.

They have unearthed shards of china and porcelain from the Wormsley's collection. They found a diamond ring, the metal ruined and the diamond clouded. But still.

They found temporary housing until Dec. 1, but haven't decided whether to rebuild or relocate.

Pierrette stood on the ash heap of their home with its stunning view. "I used to get up every morning and open the windows and say, `Ah, this is my valley."

Fitzpatrick looked up from digging Wednesday and handed Pierrette a piece of folded notebook paper. A letter from his little girl to the Wormsleys telling them it will be all be OK.
- Lisa Petrillo, staff writer

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