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News from the Fifth: Flood Recovery

Dear Friends,

It has been a month and I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a little bit of sunshine. While I'm not actively cursing the rain yet, I can tell you a favorite song in the Hopkins household right now is "Mr. Golden Sun." (These little children are asking you, to please come out so they can play with you!)

We're ready for the sun. And we're ready for a break in this damn rain. And we’re just ready for a break, maybe. For the past month, our communities affected by the floods have been working around the clock to get their lives back together... especially our small business community, many of whom lost everything they had. Many of whom still need help.

If your muck boots have dried and you're still looking for a way to help out those affected by the recent flooding events (or, if donning muck boots isn't your thing, which is totally OK), the upcoming spring months -- which are hopefully going to be full of more sunshine and little less rain -- are going to be chock-full of fundraiser events directly benefiting residents as well as the small businesses who were forced to shut their doors after the waters rose and inundated their inventories and equipment.

And all of these fundraisers offer an opportunity to play, rain or shine!

The first event is THIS THURSDAY, Apr. 4 at Kendall-Jackson's Wine Estate and Gardens from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event includes wine and appetizers; all donations are appreciated and accepted.

Then, in mid-April, team at R3, Rodger's Play Haus Productions and the Lazy Bear Fund will present Love Wins, a four-day, flood-aid fundraising event to help those in need. It begins Thursday, Apr. 18 with Give Back Thursday at the Rainbow Cattle Club and spans through the weekend with a #BetterTogether reception at Big Bottom Market, a Flood-Aid Extravaganza at the Guerneville Veterans Hall and a new Easter in the Plaza tradition on Sunday, Apr. 21.

In addition to these events, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts is planning a gala in May, to include dinner, an art auction and some special guests. More details to be announced soon.

Proceeds from these events will funnel into the New Vision Foundation, which will provide small grants to small businesses affected by the floods. The New Vision Foundation is a 501c3, run by the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber. The Chamber has partnered with the Russian River Chamber and Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce and a handful of other supporters to establish a small business relief fund for our small businesses in both the lower Russian River area and in the Barlow.

Thanks to the New Vision Foundation, the Lazy Bear Fund ( and the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, small businesses will be able to apply for small grants to help with getting back on their feet.

We're all in this together and together, we're better. #bettertogether



Upcoming Events

Flood Recovery: Resources for small businesses and residents

Flood Survivor Rapid Rehousing Program

While the county continues to wait for Federal Emergency Management Assistance, our local government and nonprofit providers are stepping in to help residents get back in their houses.

On Tuesday, March 19, the Board of Supervisors approved a $150,000 award to West County Community Services (WCCS). The grant has enabled WCCS to establish a Flood Survivor Rapid Rehousing Program. The program pays for a dedicated case manager to help flood victims find creative solutions to get back into their housing or similar housing solutions.

The case manager assigned to this program will work with clients to locate housing and provide limited move-in assistance for those who cannot currently live in their damage home and need to relocate as a result; and assist low-income homeowners with mini-grants ($3,000 max) for housing repair that will help return their units to habitability.

The case manager will help potential clients determine their eligibility, develop a budget and a housing plan.

“Not every client will receive the same thing,” Tim Miller, WCCS executive director told the River MAC during a special meeting on Thursday, March 21. “But this a low-barrier, quick response. That is a transitional program that gets people back into housing that is the same or similar to what they had” prior to the flood.

Additional information can be found at

Small Business Administration Help Available

One month has passed since the worst flood in two decades rocked the lower Russian River area. The federal government came through at the end of March to help our small businesses.

As recently reported by Frank Robertson in Sonoma West Times and News, the U.S. Small Business Administration opened up shop in Guerneville at the former Bank of America building on Main Street. The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Wednesdays, which is available from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofits may borrow up to $2 million to replace or repair damage or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The Small Business Administration can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the costs of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster from occurring in the future.

Read more here.

How can you Help? Fundraisers and Events

The Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma County is hosting a Flood Relief Fund in support of the students and families affected by the torrential flooding events.

Checks and gift cards to places like Home Depot, Safeway, Walmart or Costco, can be mailed or dropped off in person to Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma County at 1400 North Dutton, Suite 24, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 or by donating on their website.

West County Health Centers is seeking donations to help provide direct support for flood victims through its West County Health Center Patient Hardship Fund.

Public transportation vouchers, co-pays to replace prescriptions, durable medical equipment, emergency nutritional needs, identification replacement and other small emergency needs will be funded with the hardship fund donations.

Donations to the Patient Hardship Fund can be made by check and mailed to West County Health Centers at P.O. Box 1449, Guerneville, CA 95446. To donate online go to help/donations.

Help your friends, neighbors and loved ones affected by the recent Sonoma County floods by giving to the United Way Sonoma County Flood Recovery and Wellness Fund.

Purpose of the Fund: The purpose of the fund will be to support flood survivors to get back on their feet. All funds raised will be used to support flood relief through agency partners in the region.

Donations may be made on United Way's website.

Even more opportunities to help out...

Nonprofits and community groups throughout the county are taking it upon themselves to host fundraisers for those affected by the floods. Events we know about include:

What is Legal Aid?

Sonoma County is becoming aggravatingly familiar with natural disasters. Ask Kendall Jarvis, Disaster Relief Attorney with Legal Aid of Sonoma County, who spoke in Sebastopol during the city’s community flood recovery meeting last month.

“We learned so much from the fires,” she told the Fifth District Office. “There’s so much immediate need in the first four to six weeks. It’s not unfamiliar to not know what to do.”

Kendall said that, especially in the flood recovery process, it’s also not uncommon for it to feel really smooth and then all of a sudden, interrupted by an unknown roadblock.

That’s where Legal Aid comes in.

“We’re not just the service where you hire an attorney and sue someone to go and make everything alright,” Kendall said. “That’s not how it works.”

Instead, Legal Aid takes a holistic approach.

“We listen to people’s stories and help them understand what their problems are and either what to watch out for or how to best advocate for a solution,” Kendall said. “A lot of people don’t know where to go, and we’re there to help navigate them through this process.”

And for flood recovery, it can be a daunting process that includes:

But, you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re a victim of the February floods and need assistance wading through insurance, tenant’s issues, or anything in between, contact Kendall at

Graton Disaster Preparation Fair

The third annual Graton Area Disaster Preparation Fair will be held at the Graton Fire Department, located at 3750 Gravenstein Highway N. on Saturday, Apr. 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This fun, free family event will help community members learn how to empower themselves during a disaster. The recent flooding reminded us all that now is the time to prepare yourself and your family.

The Graton Fire Department will host the event at their station, conduction fire extinguisher training, CPR training and displaying their vehicles (who doesn't like a good fire engine tour?!). Address signs, allowing your house to be found faster during an emergency, can be made while you enjoy the festivities.

Families can learn how to escape from a burning building building, test their knowledge and of course, win prizes, through games. Adults will learn how to safely turn off gas valves, avoid electrical hazards, develop survival strategies and provide emergency first aid. There will be information about large animal rescue, search and rescue, HAM radio operation and volunteer opportunities. Everyone will be able to enroll in SoCoAlert or Nixle, the countywide emergency notification systems, and receive a handbook of practical information compiled by the sponsoring groups. The handbook is also available at

The fair will include booths from sponsoring nonprofits and government organizations, including:

The tagline, "People helping People" emphasizes how important our communities are in dealing with disaster. Come join us and find out more. Limited parking is available, so please carpool or use alternative transportation where possible.

For more information, contact Jody James, L.Ac., Graton Community Emergency Response Team at or 707-823-2866.

Municipal Advisory Council Updates

Both municipal advisory councils serving the River and Coast communities kicked off at the end of February and beginning of March. The River held its first meeting as the first rain of the historic flood began to fall. Unafraid to get their feet wet -- literally -- the River MAC representatives and alternates worked alongside our office throughout the flood event, providing us with vital intel about who needed help, when, and where. After the floods, they held another meeting, providing an opportunity for the community to learn about important recovery services.

In April, the River MAC will invite the Lower Russian River Watershed Citizens Advisory Council to discuss the upcoming changes to the Russian River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a state water quality regulation impacting septic owners in the lower Russian River. In addition, the River MAC will ask the Department of Transportation and Public Works to discuss road repair and maintenance as part of the flood recovery process. Sign up to receive the agenda or updates about the River MAC by visiting

The Coast MAC kicked off in March, holding two meetings in Bodega Bay at the beginning and end of the month. On March 7, Caltrans presented on the Draft Transportation Concept Report (TCR) for Highway 1. Check out last month’s column in the Sonoma County Gazette for more information and reach out to your MAC rep, who is actively seeking your input on the report.

The next Coast MAC meeting will be Wednesday, May 15 at 5 p.m. at the Fort Ross Elementary School Gymnasium. Learn about upcoming Coast MAC meetings by visiting

Contact Supervisor Lynda Hopkins at 707-565-2241 or

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