SANTA ROSA (CBS13) — She was one of the fortunate to escape the carnage of the worst mass shooting in modern American history, but just days later she lost her home in the devastating Northern California wildfires.
“One Sunday I’m running from bullets, the next I’m running from flames; it’s very surreal,” said Michella Flores.
What she experienced in the matter of a week has been life-changing.
“It’s even hard for me to imagine, and I went through it,” she said.
Flores was amid the chaos that unfolded in Las Vegas on October 1.
She was watching Jason Aldean perform at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Within seconds, she soon joined the thousands of concertgoers running for their lives.
“You’re terrified because you don’t know which way to go, you don’t know which way to run. I ran into a nearby casino and hid behind a slot machine,” said Flores.
Flores is a flight attendant based in Las Vegas, and while she made it out alive, going back to work was difficult.
“I did not want to go back to Vegas. she said. “I still get a lump in my throat going back.”
And just as the initial shock began to sink in, that very next Sunday, wildfires tore through Northern California’s wine country and Flores’ Santa Rosa home, where she lived with her parents, was in the fire’s path.
“We opened the door, and we could see the fire right down below us just whoofing up,” said Kathleen Flores, Michella’s mother.
As a former firefighter and paramedic, Flores told her parents to get out, and they did. Hours later, their home burned to the ground.
“It’s very surreal; it’s very heartbreaking,” she said.
We joined Flores as they walked through the place she once called home — a place that’s now reduced to rubble and ash.
“It hurts; it physically hurts to look at your whole entire life. And yes, people say it’s just things, but it’s your childhood things,” she said.
The family has been sifting through the rubble in hopes of finding treasures, including one that was dear to Michella’s mother.
“My engagement ring, given to me 51 years ago,” said Kathy.
It was a miracle find — a shining glimmer of hope amid all the devastation.
“We kept digging and digging each time we found another piece, and sure enough. My nephew found it (she sighs). Lucky for me,” said Kathy.
Flores wasn’t able to return to work as all her flight attendant uniforms were destroyed in the fire. Thankfully, she had angels watching over her, she said.
“I had no uniforms whatsoever. My co-workers donated their uniforms…They bought my luggage and got me my manuals so I can work. I’m super grateful to my coworkers in helping me and stepping up,” said Michella.
Michella says she still hasn’t fully come to terms with what she’s faced from surviving a shooter to outrunning the flames, but she’s staying strong.
“Yes the fires are out, but it’s not over…we still have a long way…just taking it day by day,” she said, standing beside her mother and facing the pile of rubble where their home once stood.
“I’m sure nights are going to be hard to get through, but we have each other. We’ll make it, we’ll rebuild, we’ll all be fine,” said Kathy.
Since the events broke out, the community support has been tremendous for the Flores family. Michella’s sister started this GoFundMe Account: https://www.gofundme.com/FloresFireRecovery