In photos: California's wine country starts recovery after devastating fires.

California is beginning a massive cleanup and recovery after a month of devastating wildfires.

Firefighter Trevor Smith battles the Tubbs Fire near Calistoga, California, in October. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

With 250 square miles ablaze, October 2017 was a particularly bad month for wildfires in Northern California. At least 8,400 homes have been lost, and many of the nearby businesses — including vineyards and wineries — have been damaged as well.


Charred wine barrels at Paradise Ridge Winery. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The property damage is well over $1 billion, and at last count, 42 people lost their lives.

But though the fires were undeniably devastating, neighbors and volunteers were quick to help out. People opened up their homes to evacuees, donated supplies and cash, and even helped save and recuperate pets and animals left behind by or separated from their owners.

A "lost cat" poster on a telephone pole. Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images.

As of late October, the majority of the fires have been contained, which means the towns and cities affected by the fire will now need to begin to rebuild.

Getty photographer Justin Sullivan visited one community that had been hit by the fire. This is what he saw:

Coffey Park, a neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California, was one of the most densely populated areas affected by the Tubbs Fire in the early morning of Oct. 9.

Residents sift through the remains of their Coffey Park home. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Entire swaths of houses have been reduced to their foundations. Chimneys stand alone like monuments.

Freestanding chimneys in a burned-down neighborhood. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

A skateboarder inadvertently created a shocking comparison video of the neighborhood before and after the fire.

The brick facade is all that remains of one particular home. Someone has scrawled its street address on the skeleton of an old tree out front.

The brick facade of a home destroyed by the Tubbs Fire. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Residents like Renee Hernandez and her son Ben are coming back to sift through the remains of their homes.

Renee Hernandez (left) watches her son Ben (right) digging through the debris. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Though the devastation may appear to be complete, small miracles like this figurine emerge from the ashes.

A figurine of a woman among the rubble. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

With the fires contained, people are now looking toward recovery and rebuilding.

An insurance adjuster walks through the neighborhood. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

It's going to be a big undertaking. Before the logistical nightmare of rebuilding can even begin, entire neighborhoods will need a thorough cleaning due to toxic chemicals from melted plastics and pesticide — even ammo from a ruined gun store need to be cleaned up.

Wildfires are dangerous, terrifying disasters that can wipe out entire neighborhoods in what seems like the blink of an eye. And with climate change potentially worsening this problem, we'll need to think about how we prepare and plan for these disasters.

Though cleanup and rebuilding will be tough, Coffey Park still seems to maintain a resilient spirit.

An American flag hangs in front of a ruined home. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

And at least one homeowner seems unbowed by their tragedy.

A message spray-painted on a driveway. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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