By Supervisor Susan Gorin — It is not often that life hands you huge dichotomies in the same day, same night, same week, but for many of us the past several weeks have been a master course in contrast between destruction and beauty. Every moment since October 8 has been surreal and as we settle into our reality post-fire and adjust to this new normal, I wanted to take a moment to share my gratitude and grief with you.
Like thousands of other people, I lost my home and along with it, items my husband and I have collected and kept with each move. Like so many of you, my road home after work no longer leads up a familiar driveway. I get dressed every morning in clothes that are not familiar and sleep in a home that is not mine. Like you, I navigate roads through the valley where the landscape is scarred and only the steel, twisted bones of homes stand. My eyes and heart adjust again each day.
In the midst of this moment, I see people reaching out to support each other, offer hugs and homes to strangers, listen to stories of heroism and heartbreak. I marvel at what was saved as I grieve at what has been lost. Most of all, I am amazed by you: The People. The love and care for the community during this unprecedented disaster has been and continues to be incredible. I have a photo of my new granddaughter, born the same night as our house burned down. She is mine, but I have yet to meet her – soon – and her photo serves as a reminder of that which remains: hope for tomorrow, love for each other, and the family of community.
Despite the distraction of my home, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the county and my district. I am here with you through it all. I have attended many community meetings and heard from thousands of people. It is abundantly clear we share both grief and gratitude. We have much to do together to recover and rebuild. I encourage everyone to register with FEMA immediately and visit the government website Sonoma County Recovers for information and assistance. It is updated daily. Please also register with the United Way for Emergency Funds.
Over the next many, many months, I will revisit the topic of gratitude often as we wind our way through this process. This is just the beginning of our marathon and before we get too far, I want to issue some immediate thanks to all who sprinted at full speed for many smoky, scary days in service to this valley. Thank you to everyone who stepped up and came running, from individuals to First Responders, to civil servants, to nonprofits, and more. A special thank you to SV Fire Chief Steve Akre for the many updates and Cal Fire Battalion Chief Kirk Van Wormer for the extensive district tour for my team. Thank you to City of Sonoma Police Chief, Lt. Bret Sackett for his leadership and communication as well as Sheriff Rob Giordano – both were outstanding.
I am also thankful to City Manager Cathy Capriola and her staff at the EOC for their care of not just Sonoma city limits, but the entire valley. A special thanks is warranted for Sonoma City Councilman and Rotarian, Gary Edwards for his tireless efforts across the valley and throughout the emergency period. In future columns, I will highlight more people and organizations, while all the time acknowledging and echoing the words posted at the Glen Ellen Fire Station, “Everyone did what they thought they should do. Thanks to all.”
At this time, I am working with several organizations, both public and private, on Fire Response, Recovery and Rebuild efforts. To this end, I have sent out a survey to Sonoma Valley nonprofits requesting information on activities during and after the fire emergency period. My goal is to try and assess future needs of the community to be met and matched by nonprofit capacity. I will continue to work to direct the necessary resources to ensure we have what is needed moving forward. To be sure, it will require a tremendous lift from all of us, but I am here to serve my district and advocate for your needs.
For those who require immediate information about housing, debris removal, Right of Entry, or anything else, please reach out to my office and we can direct you:
Please know we are working at full capacity to answer every call, email, and inquiry. The volume of communication is substantial, but we are here to help. Please be patient as we will get back to you.
On a final note, as we enter the Recovery and Rebuild stages, my hope is we remain kind, patient, and civil with each other. It is natural to flare up and lose patience with one another, but we have to remember we have been through a significant trauma – the scars of which are both invisible and visible. It takes time to heal and come to terms with what has occurred here in our bucolic county. Together, we are going to have to innovate, accommodate, and remain sensitive to the things that were both lost and found in the fires. Together, we can and we will.