After two perilous weeks with deadly fires here in Sonoma County, we are finally back at work with power, phones and internet! Whew! I would like to thank everyone who sent notes and prayers to our staff. Thankfully, none of our employees lost their homes but it was close. The TUBBS fire came within a mile of my home and the NUNN’s fire came within two miles.
I wrote on my Facebook that we are a city of grief taunted by smoke rolling through the valleys every time the winds shift. More than six thousand structures burned, most residential homes. In fact, our city lost 5% of its total housing capacity the first night of the fire as 85 mile per hour winds drove the TUBB’s fire through much of northern Santa Rosa (Mark West, Fountaingrove, Larkfield, Coffee Park, etc.) The NUNN’s fire devasted much of the Sonoma Valley (Glen Ellen, Kenwood, Sonoma, etc.) Today is yet another high fire danger with predicted 30 mile per hour winds thus we are all on edge. It is difficult to sleep. PTSD? You betcha! We have tens of thousands struggling with it now, myself included.
The conditions have improved dramatically. The fires are mostly contained and smoke is at a minimum. The skies are blue which allows us to see the full extent of the damage. Driving north on Middle Rincon Road here in Santa Rosa, you can see that all the hills to the north are black, as well as areas of Fountaingrove. They are slowly letting families back into their neighborhoods to sift through the ashes and look for lost pets. :::sigh::: The stories are heartbreaking. Most of those who perished were the elderly who either didn’t hear the sirens or couldn’t move quickly enough to escape the flames. Neighbors who banged on doors and rousted people were heroes and some were able to fight flames and save entire streets from devastation.
We still have the National Guard and hundreds of other fire departments at work in our town. When I arrived home, a Montana strike crew drove up and down our street to make sure everything was safe. It was a true pleasure to shake their hands. When I went to the grocery store that night, a crew of 19 firefighters from Oregon came in to grab some snacks. They were covered, head to toe, with ash. Helicopters and fire bombers are still occasionally flying over as they finish up containment of the fires. We had the largest fire fighting plane in the world, a 747, dropping fire retardant in our county, as well as a couple of DC-10’s and dozens of smaller plans and helicopters. At one point, we had five large fires burning in Sonoma County. It was a firestorm of epic proportions.
Many have asked how I am and I’m traumatized. We all are. I had to evacuate and move three people four times in the past two weeks. (Thank God I had healed from my emergency hysterectomy last May!). I had sirens in my ears for about 36 hours, a very persistent ear worm that finally resolved after listening to Bruno Mars over and over and over. We didn’t eat much for the duration but there was a plentiful supply of cookies. Headaches from the smoke were by tough but thankfully my IC didn’t flare at all.
Recovering from a traumatic event like