In 2011, my wife Holly, my youngest daughter Miranda, and I lost our home and much more in an epic wildfire bred from an historic drought, much like what California is experiencing today.
If we had been better prepared, our losses wouldn’t have been as great. If I had known what awaited me in the weeks and months after the fire, I would have embraced the help offered to me rather than pushing it away. If I understood that a self-confident and successful man could be suddenly laid low, unexpectedly and devastatingly, I might have reached out to a professional instead of suffering through many sleepless nights and becoming nearly unbearable to those closest to me.
The right book would have been a huge help, before and after the fire. It would have made me realize what was at stake for my family while Central Texas baked itself into a disaster-waiting-to-happen. It could have given me solace and self-awareness as I sunk into an angry, depressive state. Most of all, it would have shown me that I wasn’t alone in how I felt or what I was going through.
Because there wasn’t a book like that, I decided to write it. By telling my story, I hope to help those whose lives will one day be upended, or nearly destroyed, by a hurricane, wildfire, tornado, or earthquake. Some may live in California or Arizona or Colorado, others in tornado alley, and still others on the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard. My book is for all of them.
But because my book deals honestly with mental illness that can arise from an unforeseeable event, it also has lessons for anyone who has lost a loved one, a meaningful job, or a sense of purpose and spiritual meaning.
In Hail of Fire, I share what I learned with you. I hope it is a comfort if you are suffering today. And if you live in a place where disaster could strike, I trust it will make you better prepared than the Fritz family was on Labor Day, 2011.