With the destructive fires now mostly out, Sonoma County continued the monumental task of rebuilding this week. In Petaluma, most of the signs of the disaster had disappeared, although the city was planing to play a role in the recovery effort in neighboring Santa Rosa and Sonoma.
By the beginning of this week, all of the emergency shelters in Petaluma had closed, according to Lori Wilson, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, one of the organizations coordinating relief efforts. At their height, Petaluma’s 10 shelters housed about 2,000 evacuees.
Most of those temporarily evacuated were able to return to their homes once the fires were suppressed, Wilson said, while those who lost homes moved in with family, friends, or found shelter through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The good news is a lot of people have been able to move on,” she said. “Things have quieted down. People are getting back to their normal day-to-day lives.”
The Red Cross continued to operate a donation distribution center at the Deer Creek shopping center in Petaluma. Wilson said the site serves as a logistical hub for workers to move food and supplies to other parts of the county where they are needed.
The fires, which began on the night of Oct. 8, were 95 percent contained by Wednesday. The three main fires that devastated Sonoma County — the Tubbs fire, Nuns fire and Pocket fire — burned a total of 110,720 acres and destroyed more than 6,800 structures.
Insurance companies, including State Farm and All State, had set up mobile claims units for fire victims around Petaluma, another sign of the disaster in neighboring communities. Nonprofits in Petaluma continued to receive and distribute food and clothing and other essential items.
On Monday, the Petaluma Boulevard South office of PEP Housing looked like a convenience store, with rows of nonperishable food displayed next to donated clothing, toiletries and houseware. Mary Stompe, the executive director, said donations had come in from all over the state. Fire victims were welcome to come in and take whatever they needed.
“We have been busy organizing all the amazing donations that have come in from all over,” she said. “We have a ton of kids backpacks, toys, books, crayons, snacks, dry food and canned food. Lots of baby supplies and clothes.”
Frankie Boyce, who lost her house in a fire in Potter Valley near Ukiah, filled a bag with clothing, towels and food. She was ecstatic to find a package of strawberry wafer cooking.
“I’m going to eat these for dinner,” she said.
Boyce said she is staying with family and drove all the way from Mendocino County to the free shop in Petaluma after hearing about it on Facebook.
“It’s a lifesaver,” she said. “I don’t like to take things, but a lot of people need a lot of things right now.”
(Contact Matt Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.)