The Tubbs Fire was the most destructive wildfire in the history of California, burning ~37,000 acres in Sonoma, destroying 5,643 structures and costing roughly $1.3 billion. The Atlas Fire burned ~51,000 acres in Napa and destroyed 781 structures.
Today, October 8, marks the one year anniversary of the devastating Northern California wildfires, a series of 21 major fires burning simultaneously at least 245,000 acres. I remember waking up to the ominous orange haze, with the smell of smoke singed into my memory. My heart broke as I read story after story of friends on Facebook evacuating their homes unsure of what they would return to. Some of them weren’t even provided enough warning to put shoes on before their homes went up in flames.
I searched for ways to help, rallying the community in Sacramento to send truck loads of food to feed first responders, supplies for victims and gift cards to help families buy bare necessities. People I had never met, but had interacted with on a Facebook mom’s group, came together making this possible. It was inspiring to witness altruistic acts from a neighboring community and a bittersweet reminder (in this politically divided country) that it can often take tragedy to bring us together.
In the past year, Sonoma and Napa residents have begun the long road to rebuild. We personally lost a family home in the Sonoma Tubbs Fire, and the land is still sitting there waiting in limbo. As JancisRobinson.com points out, there are still thousands of people without proper homes or jobs as a direct result of the devastation. Among the worst-affected were the vineyard workers, who can be helped by donating to Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation, the Napa Valley Community Foundation and Sonoma Family Meal.
Wine professional and Santa Rosa resident Lisa Mattson, points out that Sonoma Family Meal, the charity created by food writer Heather Irwin to feed first responders and victims, is continuing to feed 80 families every week who are still struggling to recover from the disaster.
“Some people are living in trailers or in their cars on the streets of Santa Rosa,” Mattson reports. “Others live out of campers on their burned lots and cook meals on a portable cooktop.”
She has released a new edition of her book The Exes in my Glass: How I Refined My Taste in Men & Alcohol - a humorous dating memoir. 100 percent of the proceeds benefit long-forgotten #SonomaStrong victims who still can’t get back on their feet.
“I spent most of last winter and spring frustrated with how slow the insurance and rebuild process was moving, so I decided to funnel my energy into adding some additional scenes to my book,” Mattson said. “Like many wildfire victims, we are underinsured, but I want to do something to help those less fortunate than me. Sonoma Family Meal is helping so many people who are still struggling to recover from the disaster.”
You can support Sonoma Family Meal and buy the second edition of Mattson’s book on Amazon.
The story of a young woman’s struggles with naivety, insecurity and the double standards of dating, The Exes in My Glass: How I Refined My Taste in Men & Alcohol takes readers through a humorous string of 13 ex-boyfriends that honed the former waitress/bartender’s palate and guided her destiny to Santa Rosa, Calif., where she landed her dream job and her dream man.