Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#SantaRosaStrong

Not even really sure what to say, except that I have been off the grid almost completely for the past 7 days mostly due to the catastrophic events in Northern California. My hometown, Santa Rosa, caught fire a week ago Sunday night, and the tragedy that followed only got worse for days on end. My parents and sister are still living in Santa Rosa, and when my parents were evacuated from the home I grew up in on Tuesday afternoon I knew I couldn't keep teaching in SoCal. I was too distracted/distraught and needed to go be with them. The fear that a fire which only grew for the first three to four days would harm my family was too terrifying, and my parents didn't even have a place to stay from day to do as hotels were filling up with the 90,000 displaced residents of a town I hold so dear in my heart.
So I left school Thursday to drive north not exactly sure what to expect. The radio informed me on the drive that the disaster was still out of control, the fire spreading, more evacuations being ordered through the drive north. 
When I arrived in Rohnert Park (the town my parents were staying in) early Friday morning the sky was permanently dark with smoke, tanks rolled through Cotati as we sat down to coffee, and the mood was a mix of tense and caring with every stranger we encountered, from the people in line to the cashier in the cafe. 
From Friday morning through the weekend I witnessed the most amazing community come together to take care of one another. People offering others rooms in their not-yet evacuated homes, too many volunteers at the Fairgrounds for me to help out, a pages long list of free resources for evacuees. The beautiful mountains behind Santa Rosa continued to burn, but the people of my home town outshone the fear and destruction of the fires.
I've heard and read (in the newspaper) so many insane stories this week. Stories of families escaping in the nick of time, people surviving by jumping in swimming pools, residents saving their animals with a garden hose as their homes burned... I've seen the fire damaged portion of town myself, where the fire jumped the freeway and took out businesses and homes. My sister's school was burned badly on the first day, but somehow the hospital where my dad works, which was right in the path of the fire, is undamaged. 
I feel so fortunate that my family is safe, my parent's home somehow spared, and my friends all accounted for. My heart breaks for those who got out with seconds to spare though, who lost homes and memories, pets and even loved ones in some cases. This week has been an awesome reminder that at any minute you can loose all your earthly possessions, and of the value of your loved ones. I want to cherish and nurture your relationships with family and friends, every minute on earth with the people you love is irreplaceable, and so much more valuable than anything else. 
We return home tomorrow, and will be riding my bike to work Thursday... life will go on. But the things I've witnessed this week will stick with me forever. I'm proud to be from Santa Rosa, and even if there is heartache and pain now I know that the community will take care of each other. 

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. LC heard you on The Forward and wanted to give you a pat on the back. One for a job well done and two for the support of your family and friends in SR. Keep being an awesome human!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh sad! Must have been a tragic moment for everyone. Incidents like these leaves a mark on life. Fortunately no lives were harmed and everyone is safe.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I live in Santa Rosa, teach math in Healdsburg, and mountain bike. We almost lost our house. The 3 closest homes to us, including the property we own right next door to us, are gone. It has been a crazy 3 weeks or so. The community has been awesome. While there are a lot of stories of loss, there are a lot of stories about the community helping each other. I have been amazed at family, friends, and strangers helping family, friends, and strangers. This will only make an awesome community stronger.

    And there is a lot of rebuilding to do. There is a lot of work ahead. And I am looking forward to Annadel opening up again. Things will definitely be different.

    You had a great podcast on the Forward. I look forward to reading more on your blog. Ride strong.

    ReplyDelete