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Fall Colors

We’ve turned the corner into fall and are emerging from yet another round of wildfires. Our skies were painted with the shades of fall leaves and the air has been thick with smoke. Tire tracks were visible in a layer of ash on a Santa Rosa parking lot. More homes have been lost; more lives upended. Thankfully, there were no local fatalities. As of this date, the Glass Fire which began September 27 has yet to be fully contained.

I can’t help but worry that the stress from these recent wildfires could have a traumatic impact on our children, especially the youngest. Night skies aren’t supposed to glow red and orange! Even in an orderly evacuation, there’s the smoke, the sirens, the flashing lights, the fear and uncertainty. Having to leave familiar surroundings under threatening conditions can cause emotional distress in parents and the elderly, too. Sadly, for some of our families, this wasn’t the first time they’ve had to flee.

Each year, we learn, and we grow. We know our evacuation zones and what red flag alerts mean. Support systems, communication and technological resources continue to improve, giving us a little bit of a “heads-up” so we can prepare and be ready to leave if necessary.

Survivors from past fires, many still in the stages of rebuilding their own homes, were ready and willing to extend offers of help to this year’s victims. Community volunteers appeared on a moment’s notice to staff evacuation centers and offer assistance to those displaced and their animals. Restaurant owners, already struggling under the weight of the pandemic, jumped in and begin preparing hundreds of meals for those in need.

Our local volunteer fire relief effort reminds me of a video I once saw of an orchestra appearing as a flash mob at a European train station, each musician coming through the crowd to seamlessly pick up their piece of the concerto the moment they arrived. It’s humbling to be part of such a caring and resilient community! Bravo Sonoma County!

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