“Devastating” – Augustana and USF Grads Lose Home in California Wildfire

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – California is in crisis, experiencing the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. Tonight, a USF grad and Augustana grad, along with their two kids, are one of the thousands of newly homeless families. They moved out to Northern California a few years ago, with possessions that are now gone.

When you look at Paradise, California, it’s hard to believe anyone could consider this scene “paradise.”  Record-breaking fires have forever changed the lives of many, including the Johnson’s.

Kyle and Lynn Johnson met in college in Sioux Falls. Kyle is a Watertown native, while Lynn is from Minnesota. Kyle says that wildfires are commonplace in California, but he had a gut feeling that something was terribly wrong when he saw an “orange glow” in the sky.

“People we care about and love all, all made it out alive and we are so thankful for that, because not everyone is able to say that today,” said Kyle.

On Saturday, the evacuated couple got the news. Their home burned down.  

“They’ve been showing amazing resiliency and trust in God to rebuild and start over,” said Barbara Chase, a friend of theirs.

Chase started a GoFundMe page to help the Johnson’s. She says the couple is known for their kindness, and people back in South Dakota want to return the favor.

“They are the most amazing, generous, servant-hearted people so yeah to see them being in place of need, yeah it’s really stirred our hearts,” said Chase.

The outpouring of support from home has been nothing short of amazing.

“That’s what has gotten my wife and I more choked up than anything, even more than like knowing that we lost everything,” said Kyle.

The Johnson family is still in California trying to rebuild their life, but with the support of people thousands of miles away.

That’s just the beginning of the generosity. According to Chase, someone the Johnson family has never met has offered their airline miles to the family so they can travel home to the Midwest for the holidays. The donate, click here.

For other ways to donate to people across California that need help, click here.

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