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Tomorrow is Christina Christman’s 39th birthday. Last night she slept with her mom, her 5-year-old daughter, her brother, and her 13-year-old son on the grass of a little traffic island in the parking lot of Mira Mesa High School.

Christman lives in town in Ramona. Her mom, Judy Queen, lives in a mobile home park also in Ramona and she heard the evacuation call on her police scanner. Christman drove to Queen’s house last night and the family carpooled to the evacuation center. “We got gas and said, ‘Let’s hit it,’” Queen said.

They told me what’s usually a two minute drive from the mobile home park to Main Street took three hours last night, and the family finally reached the high school at 3:30 a.m. At about 10 a.m. this morning at the high school, Queen, Christman and her daughter, Tessa, sat on the grass by their car on a leopard print blanket. Queen ate a salad while Tessa colored pictures of squirrels and birds. Christman’s 4-year-old daughter is with her dad in Escondido. Homes in their neighborhood were also evacuated. Christman lost her home in the Mussey Grade area of Ramona in the Cedar Fire four years ago. Because she’s been through this before, she said, she felt a little less tense. “In October, it’s ‘Everybody get ready,’” she said. Last time, she said, her kids were in diapers and she didn’t bring any toiletries for herself. This time: “Four rolls of toilet paper and a whole bunch of other stuff,” she said.

But, she said she knows this part, the waiting part, is one of the easiest. “When you go back, that’s the scary thing,” she said. “It didn’t actually hit me until I went back and saw it — like, ‘Oh my gosh, we could have died.’ I was really thankful.”

Christman and her family slept outside last night because she didn’t want to breathe the germs from all the people on cots in the shelter. She said a few security guards circled through the parking lot throughout the night and made sure they were OK. “I just didn’t want to be around that. I’m kind of funny with public germs,” she said, “especially with that staph thing going around.”

KELLY BENNETT

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