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Sonoma County Gazette
Rohnert Park Ripples by Gina Belforte

Fire Storm Report

Oct 23, 2017


Awoken by the strong smell of smoke, we originally thought a wildfire was burning far up in the hills. From my home, it was difficult to see the east side of Rohnert Park and the brown rolling hills that slope down into us. 

Checking my phone there were 15 missed calls and a number of text messages. As dawn began to break over the mountains we realized what was truly happening. 

The destruction was absolutely heartbreaking. 

In Rohnert Park, the fire advanced towards us driven by strong winds flying off the mountains. Homes on the north side were evacuated in an abundance of caution. 

Our public safety officers along with Rancho Adobe Fire and Petaluma Fire battled the blazes eventually aided by the slowing of the strong winds. Two of our officers lost their homes while trying to protect our residents. How do you adequately thank someone whose families and homes were in grave danger while they fight to save others? Can it ever be enough?

With immense sadness, I ache, as do we all, for what so many have lost.

The PG&E base camp set up in Rohnert Park across from the casino with over 3,000 employees staged and ready to handle placement of new power poles,  restringing of downed power lines and compromised gas lines.  

The American Red Cross volunteers were housed in our Burton Rec Center. Visiting them I learned some of them had just returned from volunteering in Houston dealing with the effects of Hurricane Harvey. They came from South Carolina, Kentucky, Connecticut and Rhode Island. 

Curiously, I asked how come they volunteer so far from their own homes. “So that when we need help in our towns, someone will show up for us”.

The Rohnert Park Animal Shelter took in over 100 evacuated animals to provide safe and temporary housing for pets. 

Sally Tomatoes opened up as a temporary evacuation center as did a few of our churches. 

So many of our friends and co-workers have been gravely affected by these raging infernos. We see the look on peoples faces at hotels, restaurants and in stores. We ache for the pure beauty of our county and the terror that folks have had to endure.

But through it all, there has been a strong message that has stood out. 

From first responders to volunteers to donations and simple acts of kindness we will persevere. We are a uniquely strong, giving community and we know this will take much time to for people to heal and get back to a semblance of a normal life. 

All of us in Sonoma County are here to provide help and services to those desperately in need. We are thankful for everyone determined to provide help and healing. 

We are thankful to live in such an amazing community.



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