Board Walk ~ Susan Gorin

Susan Gorin


Things we lost and found in the fires

Posted on November 25, 2017 by Susan Gorin

GorinBy 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:

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]


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.


9 thoughts on “Things we lost and found in the fires

  1. Just revisit one thing, Susan. What happened to the county emerrgency alert system and why so far have you failed to respond to the Press Democrat questions on the matter. This ultimately was the supervisors’ responsibility and you failed us.

  2. As for a better representative, Susan Gorin has been overruled by her fellow supervisors on a number of votes critical to the Sonoma Valley in recent years. Previously, supervisors never were overruled on votes critical to their district. But Gorin consistently has. She is a weak supervisor.

  3. Susan, you and your leadership are at the top of my gratitude list. I’m certain you will address the county emergency alert system questions when you have the information you need and in your usual forthright manner. The comment about the frequency of your being overruled by council peers can easily be countered with the determination you demonstrated in fighting for solutions to issues your District 1 constituents really cared about. We thank you for everything you do for us! We see you as a strong and capable county supervisor and public servant.

  4. Well said Susan. All lost something, but we who survived also have much to be thankful for. I for one am grateful that it’s you speaking for us in Santa Rosa and now leading us out of this disaster.
    Hang in there. We still have a long way to go, but together we can do this.

  5. Pray tell, Kay, what significant solutions for her constituents has Susan Gorin come up with her on her own? She holds many meetings and town halls, to be sure. She’s great at putting show and tells. But beyond that? Hardly.

  6. And one other thing Kay and Tom. It now appears people lost their lives because of the inadequacy of the county alert system. Like thousands of others, it was the loud knocks on our door from a neighbor that awoke and caused us to evacuate. No fire, police, or other first responders. A resident who lives in Kenwood told me yesterday it was the smoke that stirred and got her to look out her front window and see the flames closing in. Fortunately, she escaped with her children and dogs. I am sorry that Susan Gorin lost her home and precious belongings. It is tragic. But equally tragic are the lives that were lost and may have been saved had the county had an adequate emergency alert system in place. For that she and the other supervisors bear the responsibility of addressing and fixing. Period.

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