Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Angora -- John in June

unedited June Tahoe Mt. News ..

Editor's note: This is a monthly article following one of the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Angora Fire in summer 2007.

By Kathryn Reed

John Mauriello is a man of many words, many opinions. He is also a man of indecision.
June 24 will mark one year since Mauriello and 253 other households lost everything in the Angora Fire.
It’s the first of June. He started on a bike ride, but the winds made it more of a workout than he wanted. Ask cyclists who bike in the Upper Truckee area – they’ll tell you the winds are worse since the tree canopy was wiped out.
He ends up giving an impromptu tour of his lot, pointing out what others are doing and how if the woman who bought the lot next to his on Mount Olympia Circle builds a certain way, he will need to adjust his plans.
The week before, he talked about looking at houses on the South Shore. He wants to see what’s out there at what prices.
Mauriello lived in a modified A-frame. A brand new one is on the far side of his street. He likes it. Says it’s something he’d like to build.
“All these people moving up here … I think they are out of their minds. I know it up here,” he says May 21. He likes the rental he’s in. He can walk to his lot, but looking at the charred remains of Angora Ridge day in and day out depress him.
That same day he says, “I’m not planning on doing anything right away because I still have to settle with my insurance company.”
He’s more than $100,000 underinsured.
Odd things trigger a reminder about another personal effect that has long since hauled away as ash to the landfill. Things like the $500 this former actor had spent on headshots before moving to Tahoe a handful of years ago. He had forgotten to list those glossies.

Getting stuff done

He went to the tree planting ceremony on June 5 where the Israeli consulate donated 60 saplings in commemoration of that country’s 60th anniversary.
He went to the May 22 meeting put on by the Forest Service where people could give input about what they want the federal land in the 3,100 burn area to look like.
“It was a dog and pony show if you want my honest opinion,” the retired 69 year old said. “If some of the stuff I said comes out, then I will be happy.”
Mauriello suggested having people be responsible for replanting a 10-foot-square plot. He wants to sell the dead trees and put saplings there. He wants Angora Ridge cleared.
He’s decided that he needs to do something instead of just talking. At the Angora Benefit Concert on June 24 at the Horizon he wants to have a booth with petitions for people to sign saying “Reforest Angora Ridge.”
“To see a ridge without trees for the next 50 years … I won’t tolerate it,” Mauriello said. “If you start people in a positive movement, you get things done.”
He went to the May 27 signing of the basin-wide emergency declaration by Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Gibbons.
“I went out there and this highway patrol guy said this is private. I said my house burned down. He was polite and apologetic. I turned around and walked away,” Mauriello said.
Schwarzenegger’s people weren’t letting the public in. Gibbons’ office sent out a press release with no indication it was a private deal.
Mauriello felt jilted. The government people who attended either don’t live in the basin or didn’t have their house burn. Shunning survivors did not build trust with this survivor.

Other matters

“I think the air is contaminated,” Mauriello said of the burn area. He called the county air quality board and was waiting for a call back as of press time. He knows of people who are having issues like never before. People who have never had allergies.
He said he started coughing before the snow arrived and the blowing of his nose as returned since the snow melted.
“All I know is the dust looks different than anything I’ve seen. It doesn’t look like normal dust. It has particles in it. Brown and black,” Mauriello said.

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