I’m one of the lucky ones. My home in Santa Rosa has not been under evacuation orders because of the wildfires, although all residents have been advised to have bags packed just in case. I feel safe because one of the main shelters for both people and large animals is set up just a few blocks from me at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Today I see that the National Guard is staging from there too.
Statue of General Vallejo in Sonoma Plaza. #SonomaProud https://www.facebook.com/sonomaproud/
The tragedy is unimaginable and it is far from over. Three of my close friends have lost their homes. A call just now to my chiropractor’s office was answered by the doc’s recorded message, his voice a little choked: office closed due to the loss of our homes.
There are so many others of my acquaintance sharing on Facebook before-and-after photos of their former houses, announcing GoFundMe campaigns for renters who had no insurance. It is hard to take in the magnitude of the catastrophe even now as air tankers and battalions of firefighters are working to keep fires from spreading to the town of Sonoma and the upscale retirement community of Oakmont with its 4,500 residents.
The air is unhealthy in the entire North Bay. I’m sure everyone has seen images of the Golden Gate Bridge in a Beijing-like haze. My brother, who lives west of Chicago, says the California firestorms are all over the news, and he texts me video of the rain pounding his house.
“I want to send this thunderstorm to you.” If only he could! The weather people say a sprinkle of precipitation might come later next week—a long way off in the scope of this disaster.
Our magnificent community is pulling together like never before. But one in 10 residents have left due to advisory or mandatory evacuation orders. Where have they gone? What will they come back to?
I have received emails from friends all over the country and from London. There were more than 20 responses from a post to the Facebook group OLMC (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the grade school I attended 60 years ago in Melrose Park, Illinois). It may have been good Italian prayers from members of the kindergarten graduation class of 1955 that kept the winds in my favor this week.
For those rosaries and the messages I received from friends offering shelter if I had to flee, and for my daughter’s support and counsel, I am truly grateful. To my dance studio, Arthur Murray Santa Rosa, I offer deepest thanks for opening its doors for classes to help distract and cheer me.
I encourage locals to attend the AMSR fire relief benefit and auction on Saturday, October 21 beginning at 5:30. It will be an evening of performances by students and staff, with open dancing and refreshments for guests—yet another way to contribute to the healing atmosphere.