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Recovery and Resiliency

Recovery PlantThis year end/new year message is dedicated to Third District Block Captains whose sacred work has given strength to fire survivors – friends, family, neighbors and even complete strangers – during their darkest hours. You are my heroes.

2018. A list of words that describe the year following our 2017 wildfires might include: tough, trying, exhausting, memorable, maddening, productive, purposeful, frustrating, enlightening, frightening, and caring. For my staff and myself, a deep source of inspiration has been the community response to perhaps the most life-changing event many of us have ever faced.

Rebuilding Together

Last spring my office launched a block captain program that brought together a tenacious group of brilliant, kind fire survivors who have devoted one night each week to learning and sharing about disaster recovery. The work of this all volunteer group is revered. Fire survivors have a unique shared experience that unites them as they strategize to battle insurance companies, improve service delivery at all levels of government, address unmet needs, provide emotional support, and swap advice on the basic challenges of rebuilding. Weekly block captain meetings have been a crash course in fire recovery, taught by public and private sector experts who have generously shared time, compassion and knowledge with our fire survivors.

Our Community United 250Admittedly, the real experts here are the fire survivors themselves. Each week, block captains leave the meetings with information to circulate among dozens of neighbors who also lost everything in the fires. They return to the next meeting with new questions that surface as households move a little deeper into the recovery process. The exchange of information is one of the best examples of social cohesion that I have witnessed in nearly ten years as an elected official. This has been a lesson in how common connections can be the most critical component of disaster recovery.

Recovery Resiliency Framework Cover Only 250I count myself among the many who have benefited from the knowledge, dedication, perspective and passion of Sonoma County fire survivors. I have always believed the best public policy develops when community is engaged. Disaster recovery proves this point; we are indeed fortunate to have had an involved, committed community throughout this past year as we collectively developed a strong framework for recovery and resiliency. I am sincerely grateful that the people of Sonoma County have shone most brightly during our darkest hours.

Butte County Camp Fire Etc

Sadly, Sonoma County’s nightmare was revisited when wildfires ignited up and down California in spring, summer and fall, 2018. One can’t easily capture the range of emotions triggered by fires in Shasta, Butte and Los Angeles Counties, among others. What struck me, however, was the willingness of Sonoma County fire survivors to share their hard-earned knowledge and emotional strength with fire victims in these disaster zones. In addition to mutual aid provided by our disaster response workers and first responders, many block captains temporarily put their own recovery aside to help fire survivors in other counties, despite the toll it takes to put oneself near the epicenter of tragedy once again. There have been so many acts of kindness it is impossible to keep track of them all. Fire survivors helping other fire survivors is the ultimate demonstration of human kindness.

Mutual Fire Aid

Those of us working closely on disaster recovery know there is still so much to do but we are united in service to our own community, as well as to our brothers and sisters in other burn zones, as we continue to collectively recover, rebuild and fortify for future challenges.

In closing, this has been an undeniably rough year. Help is available. Please reach out if you are in need. For more information about our block captain program for fire survivors please contact my office at (707) 565-2241.

Holidays Traumatic

Contact Information

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Contact us by Phone
Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive
Room 100 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464626, -122.725441