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Family calls Valley Oaks home again


Last updated 7/3/2008 at Noon

After the Rice Canyon Fire destroyed 106 homes in Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park, the first family to ‘start over’, in a brand-new home, is ready to celebrate

Mother and daughter Rosemary and Jeanie Tucker are thrilled beyond belief to be returning to Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park and moving in to their newly constructed home.

The Tuckers will be the first of the Rice Fire victims to have erected and moved in to a brand new home in the park, which sustained devastating damage in the firestorm.

“Our home will be move-in ready on July 11,” said Jeanie, who is literally counting the days until the interior work is completed. “I am filled with so much gratitude, with this new home and being close to my family again.”

The Rice Fire, which brought significant destruction and displacement of hundreds of the park’s residents, occurred last October.

“My two other daughters, Mary and Terry, lost their homes [too],” said Rosemary. “I just wanted to hug and hold them and do everything I could to comfort them.”

Rosemary was nothing short of amazed at how her daughters carried themselves with courage and strength through such trying times.

“The challenges I faced were having lost my worldly possessions. All those things that gave me comfort and security were lost in the fire,” said Jeanie.

One week after the fire, another tragedy hit the Tucker family. Rosemary’s husband passed away.

“Our family came together and [we] gave each other strength to get through all of this,” said Rosemary.

The support of family, friends and the community has and continues to be immeasurable, said Jeanie. With the love and support they have received from the Fallbrook community, moving back to Valley Oaks will be a special time for them.

“You should have seen Jeanie’s face the day the home arrived,” said Rosemary. “She was just radiant and it was wonderful to see her so happy.”

Moving back to Valley Oaks will feel like starting over again, but it’s a very positive move that is part of the healing process, Jeanie said. “I’m looking forward to the security and comfort of my family again and helping out my mother.”

The Valley Oaks management team has faced its own almost insurmountable share of challenges since the firestorm swept through their community.

“Half of our community lost their homes,” said Richard Grossman, managing partner. A total of 106 homes were lost in Valley Oaks.

“When I took over the management, I decided to turn away from a number of ambitious proposals we had for redeveloping the park,” explained Grossman. These proposals would have changed the configuration of the home sites and caused delays to residents wishing to move back to Valley Oaks.

Grossman said his goal was to give fire victims a date when their property would be available, as quickly and as simply as possible.

“I decided that what we would do was repair the park and restore it to what it was before the fire; it was the quickest way to serve the community and the people who wanted to come back,” Grossman said.

After making this business decision, state and local agencies worked with one another.

“It was the best way to get everyone together on an agenda that everyone could sympathize with,” said Grossman. “We sympathized with the trauma experienced by the whole community.”

For a post-fire restoration of such magnitude, Grossman is happy to report that Valley Oaks was only three weeks behind their June 1 timeline goal in getting spaces ready for returning and new residents.

“Our next goal is to have between 20 and 30 new residents by the end of August,” he said.

This rapid recovery, Grossman said, is largely in part of their insurance company, California Capital Insurance Group.

“They have done a great job and have been an important part of our success, because that’s where the money has come from for our restoration,” Grossman said.

Onsite managers Cathie and Gary Majors have been an inspiration to Grossman. “I cannot say enough about Cathie and Gary,” he said. “They have worked so hard.”

As the new homes begin to emerge at Valley Oaks, Grossman says it’s a wonderful feeling and a significant milestone.

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