The County Voice

Firestorms: A Supervisor Speaks from the Heart

Hello from Ground Zero.

On behalf of Sonoma County, and in camaraderie with my fellow Supervisors in Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Solano, Yuba, Butte, Nevada, Orange and Fresno counties affected by these firestorms, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of support we’ve received from the CSAC family. CSAC President Keith Carson called me personally and pledged the full support of CSAC, and that promise has been followed up on with abundant action. CSAC Executive Director Matt Cate drove out last week to tour the devastation in my District, and brought with him ideas, support and well wishes from both CSAC and the Finance Corporation.  Thank you! 

And even more impressive, when I look around at our response and recover activities, I am emboldened to see all your amazing first responders and mutual aid workers here.  It proves that WE ARE NOT ALONE!

I look to my left and see Peace Officers from Alameda keeping looters out of the damage area. I look to my right and see Contra Costa Sheriff Deputies flying drones over impact zone, mapping for safety and planning. I look all around me and see Firefighters from Madera, Merced, Mono, Sutter, Amador, Stanislaus, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Kern, El Dorado, Del Norte, and others.  They are digging hand lines, driving bulldozers, piloting air drops, and pouring their blood, sweat and tears in to our community while grasping so few moments of sleep in tents at our command center.   

Supervisor Gore sent a number of photos from the fire lines that we have posted here, and also this video with CSAC Executive Director Matt Cate.

I look in front of me and see Public Information Officers from Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Fresno Counties proactively preparing us to calm the public, while also defending us from the vultures who look for blame, drama, and sensationalism. I look into our shelters and see Salvation Army volunteers from Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Tulare, Lassen, Alpine, and San Francisco as they calmly infuse unconditional love, support, and compassion to our evacuees.

And then I look ahead of me, at the seemingly insurmountable task of recovery that lies just over the horizon from the present crisis, and I already see our friends from Lake, Santa Barbara, Trinity, and San Diego – they are already with us, advising on how we can learn from their own journey towards recovery from similar disasters.

I have met your colleagues, your employees, and your constituents here in my community, my district, and my home.  They infuse me and my neighbors with the faith in each other that we need to have in order to move forward. They help me believe that we can transform this disaster from a fire that has burned our community into a fire that we can use to forge a more proactive, practical, resilient future for not just my own community, but for all of us.

Here’s to all of us coming together to overcome the challenges of yesteryear and today, and to instead follow the lead of our CSAC President in Alameda County, who has pushed us to not just think as futurists, but to act as leaders in forging the future our kids deserve.

Please remember, while Sonoma County has been horribly affected by these firestorms, our friends and peers in Napa, Mendocino, Solano, Lake, Orange, Butte, Yuba, Nevada and Fresno Counties deserve attention, support, and love.  We are in this together. 

If any of you have ideas, advice, best practices, or potential resources that we need to pursue to recover and rebuild, please reach out to me and these other county leaders personally.  We need you.

As an example, Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown – someone who led his community through the Valley Fire and beyond –  has been an irreplaceable partner for our entire community this past week.  His calm demeanor, practical experience, and sound advice has infused confidence in our community partners and in me personally.  This kind of authentic, selfless support is the most crucial gift I could receive from him and you all. 

We cannot let jurisdiction isolate us from learning from the trials and tribulations of other counties, and from embracing the solutions we need to drive forward. 

As CSAC Immediate Past President Richard Forster always says, “One Family, 58 Strong!” 

We feel the strength of our County family here at ground zero of this disaster.

And we thank you.

Onward toward a more resilient and vibrant future.

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