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Updated: Pepperdine reopens campus; more wildfire evacuees flee San Diego

In San Diego, several members of the Canyon View church were evacuated and some have lost their homes, said Roger Moon, involvement minister. On Monday, Moon asked for prayers for residents there.
“Winds are blowing up to 56 miles per hour in some areas nearby,” said Moon, who added that church leaders were taking steps to protect the Canyon View building, now serving as a shelter. The congregation is offering meals and outdoor areas for church members’ pets, Moon said.
The El Cajon Boulevard church also is open as a shelter, and the Lemon Grove church is preparing to receive donated items for distribution, he said.
Those who desire to help may contact the church office at (858) 273-5140 or e-mail [email protected]. Moon said the Canyon View church will continue to coordinate disaster relief efforts for churches throughout San Diego.
On Tuesday, officials at Pepperdine continued to urge students and faculty living on campus to remain there. All roads leading to the facility remained closed, and administrators said they would decide Tuesday afternoon whether to cancel classes at the Malibu campus for a third straight day.
With the reopening of a large portion of the Pacific Coast Highway, Pepperdine officials reopened the campus on Wednesday, urging caution to those commuting.
University Chaplain David Lemley held a prayer service in Stauffer Chapel on Tuesday morning for those affected by the fire andfor those needing healing and release, according to a university press release.
On Sunday, the situation was tense at Pepperdine. More than 1,800 faculty and students living on campus were moved to interior buildings as firefighters battled blazes on the perimeters.
Some students had only a few moments to grab whatever they could carry to the cafeteria with them, according to published news reports.
“Yesterday was a very hard day,” Pepperdine University President Andy Benton told The Christian Chronicle on Monday. “Today, it’s relatively peaceful.”
Benton credits God’s providence, preventative measures and skilled responders for that peace, saying the brush clearing done each August and September on the hillsides surrounding campus contributed to a relief-filled October.
The 200-yard firebreaks around the campus combined with a wind shift spared the campus any real damage on Sunday, Benton said.
On Monday, the focus was keeping as many people on campus as possible, to limit traffic to emergency vehicles and communicate up-to-date information in a timely manner. As of 1 p.m. Pacific time Monday, all roads leading to the campus remained closed.
In addition, university officials sent updates via cell phones, e-mail and instant messaging to those who had signed up for emergency notification. Ten such alerts were sent on Sunday, Benton said.
While classes were canceled, Benton said many were studying for mid-term exams. Others were using campus recreational facilities and at least 1,000 students volunteered to help minister to the Malibu community in the wake of the fires.
The picturesque university, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, became a staging area for emergency vehicles and helicopters during the ordeal.
The spacious lawn on the ocean side of Pepperdine became a staging area for firefighting equipment and a landing area for water-scooping helicopters that headed out to the Pacific to fill their tanks and then sped over canyons to shower the flames, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Provost Darryl Tippens e-mailed photos of emergency crews to friends and colleagues on Monday.
“There is an abundance of good will throughout the campus today, though we are saddened that some faculty and students who live off-campus have lost their residences,” Tippens said.
“God is giving us the strength, the courage and the wisdom to do what we must do,” he added.

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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