Coming Home After the Fire - Assessing the Damage

It’s still in the early stages of assessing damage from the LNU Lightning Walbridge and Myers Fire in Sonoma County. At this point, Friday evening August 28, not all evacuation zones have been released for homecoming. A collective sigh of relief can be felt across social media where people share news and emotions.

Proudly stated by fire officials, 253 residences were NOT harmed in an area where there are very few homes because the terrain is so remote and challenging. there is availble now an LNU Lightning Complex Structure Damage Status Map.

LNU Lightning Complex Structure Damage Status Map - click on link above map image to access the interactive map, where you can enter your address.
LNU Lightning Complex Structure Damage Status Map - click on link above map image to access the interactive map, where you can enter your address.

Stay in touch with updates since this has just begun so within hours anything I write will no longer be valid: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6a1823bffcab4abe98d2538f503aa876&extent=-13751968.7891%2C4614728.0846%2C-13517154.2382%2C4718988.1912%2C102100

The county is conducting a SURVEY to learn what went right and what went wrong so they can assess how to do it better in the future.

___________________________________________________________________Help us help you - Take the survey: The LNU Complex Fire began August 17, 2020 and disrupted communities across California. In this survey, Sonoma County asks residents to share their experiences and help us improve our ability to respond to disasters.

Ayúdenos a ayudarte: tome la encuesta: El incendio LNU Complex empezo el 17 de agosto del 2020 y interrumpió la vida de los residentes de California. En esta encuesta, el Condado de Sonoma le pide a los residentes compartir sus experiencias y ayúdenos a mejorar nuestra capacidad para responder a los desastres.

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There have definitely been lessons-learned and most people would say, it’s better, but still needs improvement.

Nixle alerts (https://local.nixle.com/alert/8211966/?fbclid=IwAR3uOWeIKuyWv9wHLtDVX6gAaYT_NKB70hCkfA3qp0KWRmsge3nZ7-SI1Ig) went out in Spanish to English-speaking residents. Maps did not get updated fast enough for people to know if they were or were not in evacuations zones. Mixed messages had people confused, but as the days progressed, details filled in and county officials kept people in touch through every media channel they could use.

Updates morning and night on social media (https://www.facebook.com/CountyofSonoma) (https://www.facebook.com/sonoma.sheriff) became routines people clung to...whats up now? And the best part was that they were recorded so anyone who missed the live update could watch it later.

Here is the last one on August 28, 2020:

Evacuation maps got updated and are still in the process of being improved but they were refined enough that once people saw a map and found their Evacuation Zone, they knew what to do, There is tremendous comfort in knowing your own status!

Evacuation Zone Map August 28, 2020
Evacuation Zone Map August 28, 2020

In a situation where everything is in flux moment to moment, people are scared so stress is high, the flow of information took the unknown out of the equation so people knew where to go for up-to-date information. This is where social media shined. Unlike listening to just the radio or just waiting for a newspaper to come out, information was a multi-way street and constant. Mis-information also flowed, but for the most part someone was there to correct errors, fill a gaps, and support each other. Communities shined with mutual support.

Make sure you know about the WARM LINE if you are stressed out. Whether it’s fire or COVID, the county has set up this line for people having a hard time coping: Call (707) 565-2652 for free and private support if you or someone you know is experiencing emotional stress and anxiety. Available 7 days a week from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m..

That support extended to citizens becoming part of the fire mitigation crews. Companies that owned earth-moving equipment, chain saws, etc. sent people out to work with firefighters because there wasn’t enough of anything! Local restaurants sent out bagged food for firefighters to beep them fueled for high energy work.

As the fires grew across the state both local and state electeds found resources from across the planet to fight fires sparked by lightning, a rare experience in California. Maps of the entire state gave us the story of just how many fires, where, and yes, it looked like California was on fire (and the world for that matter!).

Here’s a link to CAL FIRE’s information which covers a lot of turf. The more you know the less fear you feel: https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/8/17/lnu-lightning-complex-includes-hennessey-gamble-15-10-spanish-markley-13-4-11-16-walbridge/

World Map of fires across the planet via NASA
World Map of fires across the planet via NASA

Check out THIS fire map! https://firms2.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/map/#t:adv;d:2020-08-23..2020-08-24;@0.0,0.0,3z

and this: https://landweb.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/NRT/displayCase.cgi?esdt=MYD&caseNum=PM_MYD_20229_NRT&caseLocation=cases_data

AND - here’s your treat for the day and VERY useful - a weather map online so you can check wind speed, gusts, direction, precipitation and much more. Designed by two meteorologists, this website covers every weather incident imaginable and it’s BEAUTIFUL to watch:quite mesmerizing!

https://www.ventusky.com/?p=38.725;-122.477;9&l=wind-10m&w=strong

VENTUSKY weather wbesite
VENTUSKY weather wbesite

For a while everyone water user in Sonoma and Marin Counties were asked to conserve water. Reservoirs are still full but we are heading into fire Season so need every drop of water. Since the fires abated, conservation controls have been lifted, but Sonoma Water still suggests people conserve. We never know when it’s going to rain again and this is just the beginning of fire season!

Sonoma Water conservation map
Sonoma Water conservation map

Local Assistance Centers are being set up and staffed to help people with losses and adjustments.

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Local Assistance Centers to Open in Guerneville and Healdsburg: Recovery services available for residents affected by Walbridge and Meyers fires

Residents affected by the Walbridge and Meyers fires can access recovery services and resources at two Local Assistance Centers (LACs) beginning Saturday, Aug. 29. Both LACs will provide the same resources to residents, including assistance with replacing documents (such as drivers licenses, identification cards and vital records), accessing financial resources, rebuilding information and the insurance claims process. Non-profits will be on-hand to assist with resource coordination but will not be issuing gift cards.

The west county LAC is at the Bank of America in Guerneville (16390 Main St.) and the north county LAC is at the Healdsburg High School gym (1024 Prince St.). Hours on Saturday, Aug. 29, are 1 to 7 p.m. Starting Sunday, Aug. 30, hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Sept. 4. The LACs may remain open after this date if needed.

With resources shifting to LACs, the Community Point of Distribution (CPODs) for residents re-entering burn areas will close at the end of the day today. Re-entry resources will be available at the LAC locations starting Saturday.

Language access services, including Spanish interpretation, will be available at the LACs. To comply with safety procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, all visitors must wear facial coverings and socially distance from others.

Government agencies and non-profit organizations will be available at the LACs in-person and virtually to answer questions, refer residents to recovery resources and take applications to determine eligibility for programs and benefits. Services are open to all residents, regardless of immigration status. The agencies at the LACs will include:

County of Sonoma Departments:

In-Person:

● County Clerk-Recorder will provide support with the assessment calamity claim form, voter registration and vital records. Services will also be available virtually.

● Permit Sonoma will provide information to help property owners understand the permitting process for recovery and rebuilding.

● Environmental Health will provide debris removal information and returning home documents.

Virtual:

● Economic Development Board will be available to support local businesses.

● Human Services Department will provide a variety of services including Adult Services, Employment Services and Economic Assistance.

California State Agencies:

● California Office of Emergency Services

● Department of Motor Vehicles for those needing identification or driver licenses.

● Employment Development Department for assistance with applications for unemployment benefits.

Non Profit and Community Organizations:

● Sonoma County Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) is coordinating non-profit organization participation at the LACs. The COAD is a coalition of non-profit organizations that came together in response to the 2017 Fires and is reactivating to respond to community needs from this disaster. Some of the participating organizations include Catholic Charities, Latino Service Providers, Community Action Partnership Sonoma County and Corazon Healdsburg. The Small Business Development Center will be available virtually.

Federal Agencies:

● FEMA representatives will be available to assist survivors with their FEMA disaster assistance registrations. Survivors can register three ways: visit disasterassistance.gov, download the app to a smartphone or tablet, or contact 1-800-621-3362.

A list of participating LAC agencies and other recovery resources will soon be available at www.socoemergency.org/walbridge-meyers-lac.

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Take care of yourselves and above all - remember - this is just the BEGINNING of Fire Season. SoCoEmergency is your one-stop source for information on how to get ready for fires, how to evacuate, and how to stay safe until the coast is clear. And yes, they have information on the Coronavirus response as well.

Stay well. Stay Safe.

Sign Up for Alerts to Stay Informed

In a disaster, there are never too many ways to receive a possibly life-saving alert. That’s why Sonoma County will use multiple ways to reach you if there is a threat to your life or property. Sign up for SoCoAlert and Nixle to receive urgent notifications about local emergencies and advisories from law enforcement.

It really does work, once they figure out what language you speak! :_)!

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