"Three years after a devastating wildfire, a California community faces another crisis: PTSD. Is what’s happening there a warning to the rest of us?"
"Jess Mercer received a call from her stepmom, Annette, that morning, a little after 8 a.m. “We’re coming,” Annette said, her voice so unrecognizable it sounded foreign. Jess was at her apartment in Chico, Calif., a slightly overgrown university town that sits in a valley below the hilltop community of Paradise, about 20 minutes away. She was confused. It was early, on a weekday: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. She wasn’t expecting a visit from Annette, or her dad, Tommie.
But then Annette was saying it again: “We’re coming.”
Things got stranger: The sky turned dark. Ash fell like black snow, except it was warm, and carried the smell of smoke. Her family, Jess realized, was trying to escape a massive wildfire.
She heard her dad’s voice on the line. Everything he spoke was in short phrases: “Remember everything I’ve ever said to you. I don’t know. I’m trying.”
And then nothing."