After giving birth via C-section at Feather River Hospital in Paradise, CA, 35-year-old mom of three Rachelle Sanders was forced to evacuate due to the encroaching Camp Fire that tore through Northern California. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a nurse and three other staff members raced into Rachelle's hospital room around 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 8 — just 12 hours after she gave birth — to tell her that she needed to leave.
Although most of the patients were ushered to their cars, the new mom couldn't drive after surgery. Without any other options, Rachelle and her baby were placed in a sedan with a mechanical engineer who worked at the hospital named David. But unfortunately, the fear didn't stop there. Rachelle told CNN that there was a "windstorm of fire" in every direction from exploding propane tanks. There was also a gridlock in the streets from people abandoning their cars. In fact, the sedan Rachelle was in had its tail lights melted off.
"If it comes down to it, if you have to run, take the baby. Leave me behind."
"I thought I wasn't going to make it, for sure," Rachelle told CNN. "I wasn't sure any of us were going to make it. It was very, very terrifying."
With her intravenous tube still in and draped over the rearview mirror, Rachelle gave David explicit instructions: "If it comes down to it, if you have to run, take the baby. Leave me behind."
Fortunately, luck was on Rachelle's side. David was able to drive Rachelle and her newborn son, who she named Lincoln, to a different hospital 20 miles away. Because of the constant turning around and rerouting, the journey took nine hours. And to make the ride even more emotional, Rachelle passed what remained of her home — a sole chimney — on the way to safety.
Despite the fact that Rachelle, her husband, and their three children are homeless, she's more grateful than ever. "Never have I had a Thanksgiving come where I have had so little and felt more thankful and blessed," said Rachelle.