UPDATE: Petaluma shelters full, part of city without power
Emergency shelters in Petaluma were at capacity on Sunday morning as part of the city remained without electricity due to a power shutoff.
Around 90,000 north Sonoma County residents, including Healdsburg, Windsor, north Santa Rosa and west Sonoma County were told to evacuate the Kincade fire near Geyserville that has grown to 26,000 acres and was 11% contained.
Petaluma opened emergency shelters at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, the Petaluma Community Center and the Petaluma Veterans Building.
“We have beds for about a little over 1,000 people,” Petaluma City Manager Peggy Flynn said. “We’re making sure people have warm food, a place to sleep and a shower.”
The city has set up an emergency operations center to coordinate the various shelters, Flynn said.
At the fairgrounds, about 100 north county residents had arrived Saturday afternoon. By Sunday morning, the shelter was full. Volunteers set up cots and prepared to house up to 300 fire victims, said Allison Keaney, the CEO of the fair.
“We’re in good shape for volunteers right now,” she said. “People can check our Facebook page to see what they can donate.”
Those seeking shelter at the fairgrounds should call 283-3247 to see if there is space. The fairgrounds did not lose power this weekend, Keaney said.
Carol Serna of Windsor was on her way to an event in Healdsburg when she heard the evacuation orders. She said she turned around and joined a procession fleeing town.
After packing some belongings at home, she came to the Petaluma fairgrounds shelter with her son and 94-year-old father. Her husband stayed back on their property abutting vineyards of west Windsor, along with several other men from their neighborhood, she said.
“We chose Petaluma because it was the farthest away from the fire, and we thought it would be a lot less crowded,” she said.
Evacuations created a major traffic jam on southbound Highway 101 through Petaluma. According to 511.org, traffic was slow from Cotati to the Sonoma-Marin county line. Traffic remained backed up Sunday morning.
Petaluma’s relief efforts were complicated by a planned PG&E power shutoff. The utility cut power to about 96,000 customers starting at 5 p.m. Saturday in advance of winds that reached 80 mph in parts of the North Bay.
About 8,200 Petaluma customers were without power in the outages were expected to last into Monday, according to PG&E. No Petaluma area schools were part of a closure as of Saturday afternoon.
Petaluma People Services Center was coordinating relief efforts.
“While we understand that Petalumans stand ready to help, we ask that you stay home and take care of your family, neighbors, and friends,” the organization said in a statement. “As soon as we need volunteers or any donations, we will send out additional information. At this time, we do not need donations, however, if you would like to donate new, unused items, please take them to Kenilworth Teen Center located at 150 Fairgrounds Dr.”
To sign up to volunteer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 529-1201.
For updates on the PG&E power shutoff, visit pge.com/pspsupdates.