It 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.