2021 provided the Department of Emergency Management with a much-needed period of stability for general planning and overall preparedness. Because we were not activated into a full response mode, DEM personnel were able to focus on coordinating and completing projects, maintaining relationships with partners, exercising plans, and working with communities.
In addition to COVID-19 in 2020 California saw its worst year for wildfires in area burned at nearly 4.2 million acres.Sonoma County deployed resources in response to the Walbridge, Glass, and Meyers Fires in the parts of the County.Unseasonably high temperatures coupled with evacuations and Public Safety Power Shutdowns (PSPS) added to the mixture of situations facing Sonoma County leaders and officials to manage. This Assessment Report attempted to capture feedback from participants, review data and documents, and deliver appropriate findings and recommendations.
Sonoma County activated its EOC on March 1, 2020, to manage the growing pandemic (COVID-19) crisis. The number of cases continued to increase during the year. A substantial number of Sonoma County and cities and town staff members had been involved in managing, supporting, or assisting the response. As the year progressed additional incidents occurred which added to the complexity of the situation.
The Camp Meeker and Occidental Exercise was a collaborative effort between DEM, Fire Safe Camp Meeker, Fire Safe Occidental, and numerous local community groups and public safety agencies. Exercise planning started in early April and continued through the date of the exercise, Saturday, June 19.
In June 2021, the Sonoma County Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in coordination with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office (SO) carried out two community evacuation exercises that targeted three unincorporated areas of the County. These evacuation exercises were a resumption of previously-planned exercises in identified high-risk areas of the unincorporated county that were put on hold since 2019 due to various emergency situations that impacted the County, including wildfires and COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions.
2020 proved to be a year of truly extraordinary challenges for Sonoma County—both in variety and intensity. Most notably, County leaders and residents have once again shown strength, resiliency, and perseverance in the face of extreme hardship.
As the efects of climate change continue to propagate throughout the world, Sonoma County has sustained an increasing share of the efects. In a region known for a moderate Mediterranean climate, extreme weather conditions are becoming the new norm. The winter of 2019 brought atmospheric rivers
On the evening of October 23, 2019, the Kincade Fire ignited in an area northeast of Geyserville in Sonoma County, California. The ignition coincided with an ongoing power de-energization event due to Red Flag weather conditions. As a result of the planning and proactive response to the series of power shutoffs, Sonoma County was well positioned for a rapid and effective emergency response.
On September 22, 2019, PG&E issued notifications that forecasted weather conditions would likely result in the need for power to be shut off in areas across the North Bay including Sonoma County. This would be the first of six such notifications that Sonoma County would receive creating a need for government to respond to over the coming weeks. As a result of the planning and proactive response to the series of power shutoffs, Sonoma County was postured well for an overall effective emergency response to a novel response environment.
Following a series of winter storms 11-15 February, Sonoma County experienced a relatively short respite from precipitation, but an atmospheric river brought another round of winter storms and dumping in excess of 8” of rain on the valley floor over a 3 day period, with substantially higher amount in the hills and mountains of the Russian River basin.
The Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department, Division of Emergency Management conducted a first of its kind alert and warning test on the West Coast of the United States to evaluate the capabilities of the various alert and warning systems, and to educate and build the confidence of our residents. First responders and citizens need to be familiar with the presentation of various alert and warning system formats.
The wildfires of October 2017 will be long remembered for their ferocity, speed, and the devastating impact they had on communities in Sonoma County. Like the majority of jurisdictions in California, Sonoma County had not experienced this magnitude of disaster in living memory. The scope, scale, and duration of the wildfires pushed the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) facility, systems, and staff well beyond their design limits and experience. Some 660 EOC staff provided over 33,000 hours of service during 47 days of activation. Many who served had personally lost their homes but all were deeply affected by the suffering and needs of the community. By looking back, we will be better prepared for the future.