I am exhausted. My house is a total mess and the most important things I own are still haphazardly crammed into vehicles. Two of my children are in Southern California, my ducks and goats are at the Fairgrounds, my son and husband and dogs are in Petaluma. When I wake up in my bed tomorrow it will be to a cold shower, a frigidly cold home, and definitely no hot breakfast.
But you know what? I am filled with so much gratitude and love right now. I just came from an action… the behind-the-scenes engine that powers our community through disaster around the clock, day and night.
I am grateful. I am grateful first and foremost that my home is standing. Without the thousands of firefighters who stood in front of fire and fought to keep it from crossing the 101, my home could well have burned. I am so thankful to the firefighters who saved so many structures, and to the peace officers who orchestrated and oversaw the largest evacuation in the history of Sonoma County — and then ran patrols to keep our homes safe until we could return. We all owe our first responders a huge debt of gratitude.
Secondly, I’m grateful for the community I’m part of. I know this is all really stressful. I know we are all tired of rolling from one disaster to the next. I know it’s crazy to think of going back to work and pretending that things are normal after all we’ve been through.
But I am so damn proud of our “second responders.” They might not be on the front lines of the fire but they ARE the front lines of disaster response. Our County workforce KICKED BUTT. They managed shelters. They set up warming centers. They developed contingency plans for their contingency plans. They helped evacuate some of our most vulnerable residents, including assisted living facilities, board and care facilities, and homeless encampments. They fed the community information real time, in Spanish and English. They created and constantly updated maps while coordinating with different levels of government to get different types of information.
It wasn’t perfect… nothing in a disaster ever is. But it was DAMN GOOD and I am in awe of what has been accomplished by compassionate, dedicated, hardworking County staff over the past few days. I’m proud of the fact that we did learn lessons from our devastating 2017 wildfires — and we did better this time, and did right by our community.
Finally, the volunteers. To everyone who volunteered to help feed animals at the fairgrounds, who voluntarily translated social media posts into Spanish, who brought food and took in friends and neighbors and watched someone else’s children and did any one of the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of good deeds that took place over the past few days… THANK YOU.
I am honored to serve such a beautiful community. I often say that I have the best bosses in the world — the hundred thousand residents of west county. And I mean it. I love you, Sonoma County. Thanks for everything. We’ll get through this. We’ve got this.
— Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County Fifth District Supervisor