Survivor's guilt hits many Vida families

Some of those people are experiencing survivor's guilt.

Posted: Oct 1, 2020 7:00 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 7:02 PM

VIDA, Ore. -- Hundreds of families lost everything in the Holiday Farm Fire, barely making it out with their lives. However, others returned home to find their properties mostly undamaged. 

Some of those people are experiencing survivor's guilt. 

Help for evacuees 

The Gilliam Family is offering free meals for anyone who has been displaced by the Holiday Farm Fire at their restaurant in the Valley River Center.

They are also accepting donations to help them continue to provide free meals for as long as there is a need. 

Go to Souper Bowls, 22 Valley River Center, Eugene.

"It's a funny kind of feeling to have to be happy about one thing and to be sad about the same circumstance for someone else," Vida resident Christopher Gilliam said. 

Gilliam and his wife Trang Lee have been living in a motel ever since the Holiday Farm Fire broke out. 

"We thought we would be back in a couple of days and a couple of days turned into three weeks," Gilliam said. 

When they received a Level 3 evacuation notice, they thought it was because of a windstorm because the power was out. So they packed enough for a couple of days and left. 

They left behind family pictures, their three pets and a lifetime of memories. 

"This is like a miracle, this is a blessing to still be here to talk about it. We could be here sifting through our memories," Lee said. 

Weeks later they finally learned the fate of their home from fire crews, who sent a video of their property to them. 

To their surprise, their property was mostly untouched and only a few things burned in the fire in their backyard, including a swing set and the family's trampoline. 

Nonetheless, the fire was just feet away from their property. The Gilliam family couldn't believe the fire crews' details when saving their home. Crews removed the patio furniture, moved wood logs and used the family's hose all to save their property. 

"It just makes you think that these firefighters were really risking their lives to make sure that everyone else would be okay," Gilliam said. 

However, despite their home being saved, this family is filled with survivor's guilt. 

"My very next door neighbor just bought that house four years ago and it's down to rubble," Gilliam said. 

For the Gilliam family, the flames crept near their home. For their neighbors, the flames were less forgiving. 

"It just doesn't make you feel all that great about your own situation when you see someone else is in pain from their own," Gilliam said. 

But this family believes this community will come back stronger than ever before and will continue to pick up the pieces one day at a time. 

The Gilliam family will continue to feed those who have been displaced from the fire like they have been for the past month. 

RELATED: BLUE RIVER FAMILIES LOOK TOWARD THE FUTURE

They want to thank the community who has been giving their restaurant donations to help keep these free meals coming. They encourage anyone who has been displaced and needs a hot meal to come to the Souper Bowls in the Valley River Center. 

The Gilliam family said they will continue providing meals to those who need it the most for as long as there is a need. 

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