Stevens County resident Ian Pickett had his home destroyed. For the last year and a half, as his home has been rebuilt, he's been down in California living with family.
But this time, the disaster's global. In California in the midst of the Coronavirus, Pickett says he was watching people begin to panic, and the government beginning to lock everything down.
"We figured our best chance would be to ride out the storm on our own property in Washington where we could at the very least provide for ourselves off the land," Pickett says. "If we have to be here forever, that's what will happen."
He's calling from his cell phone during a trip to Spokane — he doesn't get much cell service up at his property.
"Self-isolation to me was like, 'Great, let's do it,'" Pickett says. "I've been practicing social distancing my whole life."
He's less worried about the sickness itself and more worried about the way people might react to it.
And part of it is just about independence.
"I'm definitely one of those guys who believes in individual freedom. I'd much rather be on my property than be under the thumb of government officials who are panicking just as much as everybody else," Pickett says. "I'm not anti-government, but at the same time, I don't think that we should allow ourselves to let decisions to be made for us because it makes us feel better or because we're too lazy to do it for ourselves."
"You know, our kids have learned over the last two years since losing our house, you just have to keep going no matter what," Pickett says. "So this is kind of just like another chapter in their book that they'll get to tell their kids one day."
He wants to make sure that his kids have a stable and happy life, but also to teach them that life is unpredictable.
"In the Marines we call it Semper Gumby: You've got to be flexible," Pickett says. "Our kids have taken on the mentality of, 'Just keep fighting, no matter what.'"
He hopes people can put all the politics aside and seek empathy instead of panic. People in Stevens County are just as likely to be unprepared and panicky as people in California. Humans are humans, no matter where they are, he says, but it might be easier to make wise choices with distance.
"But if you're worried and you're inserting yourself into the chaos, it's harder to make a better decision," he says. "It's easier to step back and look at it from afar and make more sound judgments."
Even in rural Stevens County, you still have to deal with the occasional obnoxious neighbor.
"We've had a very ornery bear who comes down every spring, and has either torn up our trash or scratched our trees and grunted at us while we yelled at him," Pickett says. "He's probably been the biggest pain in the butt that we've had."
Still, being on his property on Wednesday, he felt more relaxed than he's been in maybe a year. Lake Roosevelt's only about a half-mile away.
Sometimes, when the wind blows right, you hear the trucks rumbling on the highway. But other times, all you hear is wind winding through the trees.
The trees remain charred. The fire has left its wounds that will take decades to go. But with time, spring comes and you begin to rebuild. And, in those moments, there's a whisper of hope in the breeze.