By Ed Drewsen
The following is an account of what happened when another person and I invoked Our Lady of Prompt Succor for help during the devastating Carr Fire in northern California.
On July 23, 2018, the Carr Fire started when a good, responsible person traveling on Highway 299 near Carr Powerhouse Road had a flat tire on a late model travel trailer. The steel rim contacted the pavement, causing sparks, subsequently starting the fire. Due to a couple of early bad decisions made by Federal Parks and California Highway Patrol (CHP) personnel, the fire grew quickly.
It was reported that the man that had the flat tire asked the CHP officer to call out a helicopter, and he responded with something to the effect of: "It costs $xxx.xx to get it off the ground." He refused to even try to make the call.
Also reported was a man with a dozer on a lowboy, who came upon the scene within a couple of minutes. The fire was very small, but beginning to burn up a hill. He was unloading the machine when a park ranger came on the scene demanding he stop. He had to get permission to have the equipment operating in the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Permission was never granted. The result of inaction was devastating.
As with any population familiar with fires near them, life goes on for most folks as fire personnel fight the blaze. As for me, I was building a house for a great Catholic family a few miles away. We plugged along on the metal roof and the siding in the smoke. I provided masks for the men, but they were not used with consistency. By the morning of July 26, talk of evacuations swept the region. Residents were advised to get their meaningful possessions ready to go. The advice fell on many deaf ears as fires are commonplace in the area, and the boy had cried wolf too many times, resulting in complacency.
Two of my men lived where the fire was threatening. We discussed the fact that guys should leave work sooner than later, and I went to get some sheet metal. While waiting for the metal, I went to a restaurant to have a late breakfast. People were already getting prepared to help others in Redding. With the exception of the wealthy megachurch in Redding, every group that could help was doing something to get ready. It was actually very impressive. I posted on Facebook my willingness to haul horses for people in need. It was shared nearly 600 times, giving me the opportunity to help others as well.
Two of my men left to get themselves ready to evacuate. Another one left to help evacuate his mother-in-law. The talk was that officials were concerned that the fire might jump Interstate-5. The fire had been moving rapidly over the previous few hours. I went home to prepare to fight hot spots and get my family ready to go if necessary. Thankfully, they already had a handle on most of the preparation.
However, our mid-seventies friend and her mid-nineties mother were in need of help evacuating, so I took my daughter to drive one of their vehicles. As soon as we were ready to get them out, I received a call from the owner of our construction project. He thought the fire was heading toward the house. My son and I went out and demobilized the tools and closed up the structure. Thankfully, it was not as bad as he had thought.
The following night was amazing. In the afternoon, the winds picked up, blowing hard to the north toward Shasta Lake City and the project site. This time it was bad.
My parents had texted me a picture of Our Lady of Prompt Succor along with a prayer earlier that day. I was out moving horses to safety all day, and I never had a chance to print anything. The power was out. We couldn't get the picture printed running a generator for the computer and printer because the internet was down. I ended up placing my phone on the copy machine scanner glass. After a couple of tries, we had a good picture.
I used a hillbilly laminator, which is just packaging tape to most people, to give the picture enough structure to keep it from being blown off when nailed to a tree. Then we jumped on four-wheelers and headed south toward the fire.
A few hundred yards away from the house, we stopped. With a strong wind blowing the fire toward us, we nailed it to an oak tree and knelt down to say the prayer Dad had sent. On my phone was a picture of the prayer.
O, Mary, Mother of God, who, amidst the tribulations of the world, watches over us and over the Church of your Son, be to us and to the Church truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor, make haste to help us in all our necessities, that in this fleeting life you may be our succor, and obtain for us (here ask the particular favor you desire). Help us to gain life everlasting through the merits of Jesus your Son, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.
Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. (three times)
O Queen of the Universe, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, sovereign full of kindness, you are the advocate of sinners, a haven of safety to the shipwrecked; you are the resource of the world, the ransom of captives, the health of the infirm, the consolation of the afflicted, the refuge and salvation of all on earth. We beseech you to grant us the help of your prayers, which incline our Heavenly Father to forgive our sins and grant our petitions in all the necessities of this miserable life, prayers which obtain for us an abundance of graces to receive pardon of our faults and arrive at the practice of virtue, prayers which stop our enemies, confound their designs, and triumph over their efforts. Amen. (partial indulgence)
I had asked as the particular favor that the fire stop, and no home in Shasta Lake City would be harmed by this fire. When we finished, I stood up, rode back to the house and thought we need to be confident, but also watch for hot spots. Maybe the fire would be kept from damaging things because we might be inspired to be at the right place at the right time.
I really wanted to just go have a beer and let Mary take care of it, but we prayed a Rosary instead. Then we just spread out looking for hot spots. It was already noticeable that the wind direction had changed, blowing toward the east. By 9:30 p.m., we were exhausted. Sleep came fast, but not before briefly discussing our confidence in the prayers we had said.
The next morning, we decided to meet at a restaurant for breakfast. On the way, I stopped and talked to some Cal Fire personnel. I asked the status of the fire. They said that at around 7 p.m., the wind blew the fire directly back on itself to the south. It just so happened that it was right at 7 p.m. that we took off on the quads, headed out to hang the picture of a statue.
The fire had never blown east as we had thought. As it turned out, the wind was apparently only moving east in our little pocket. During breakfast, I told my cohort what the firemen had said. It didn't surprise either one of us. He said that he was pretty tense until we finished the prayer, and at that moment, a complete calm came over him.
My wife, kids and I placed other pictures around the Redding area over the next few days. My son actually put one on a freeway overpass.
I have read a few great stories of the miracles of God. I have read of the great works and intercessions of Our Lady and the saints. I am humbled by the thought that God used me as an instrument in His divine will, saving people the problems resulting from devastating loss.
When my dad sent me the texts, he promised Our Lady that he'd make any miracle known by getting the information published for the faithful to read. I have written this to help him fulfill his promise. I hope this inspires people to trust in our God and Our Lady. May God bless all who read this.