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Observing the One Year Anniversary
of the October 2017 Fires

sidewalk_chalk_250.jpgIt is with a heavy yet full heart that I write in observance of the one year anniversary of the October 2017 North Bay firestorm. There is no escaping that the past 12 months have been extremely distressful but for me they have also been a lesson in the strength of the human spirit. This anniversary marks a year of sadness, grief, the stories we hear every day, the overwhelming losses, the work we do, the frustration we feel when we can’t do enough, and the anger we feel at the injustices. Reflecting on the year behind us and the years ahead, we will forever remember that these catastrophic wildfires took over 5,300 Sonoma County homes and 44 precious North Bay lives. We are forever changed, no matter how much we “recover.”

We have individually and collectively experienced loss, grief, and sorrow but also witnessed heroism, inspiration, and hope. We will remember images of homes and neighborhoods destroyed with unexpected brutality, of cherished landmarks, businesses, and places of incredible beauty brought to ash. But we will also think of people coming together in the face of their own sorrow to care for one another. Neighbors, community organizations, and faith-based groups are working around the clock to aid displaced residents and families. We remain forever grateful that people from outside our community responded with astounding generosity.

phoenix_250.jpgThe heroic efforts of our first responders and Sonoma County residents are a reminder that we are never alone in times of tragedy. We look to them, to you, to guide us through this tragedy. We are eternally thankful for the demonstration of selfless courage and support.

While our memories are still painfully fresh, perhaps more so than we might have expected at this one year milestone, we are focused on rebuilding our communities and our lives. Rebuilding looks different for each individual, and I acknowledge the difficult calculus that must inform every decision.

Like the mythical phoenix, families are beginning to move back to rebuilt homes. I am, however, constantly reminded that far too many are mired in the details of recovery. They still need our help, as do the children who need extra attention and support during this time. We remain in this together, yesterday, today and for all of the tomorrows that lay ahead.

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Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive
Room 100 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464626, -122.725441