north bay fires

Chris Smith
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A few weeks ago, some of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat travelled to New York City to accept the paper's award for its outstanding coverage of the North Bay wildfires. PD columnist Chris Smith visited our studio that day, and talked with Corey Hudson about the paper's pride in its achievement, and about the future of print journalism.

California Update for Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jun 14, 2018
Jeff Chiu / AP

• The fight over whether PG&E is liable for the wine country fires is ongoing. Cal Fire blames the utility for causing at least 16 of them.

Today's reporting by Ezra David Romero.

The former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, weighs in. He's made more than a 20 trips to North Korea as an inspector.

That's on the next on All Things Considered from NPR News.

All Things Considered can be heard weekday afternoons from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm on KRCB-FM Radio 91 / streaming @ radio.krcb.org / Comcast channel 961 throughout the Bay Area / Download the FREE KRCB App @ iTunes & Google Play!

wendy
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

In the second part of our conversation with Wendy Wheelwright, she explains how the California HOPE program helps survivors and other community members heal after October's wildfires. Find more information about the program here.

Among other things, the program encourages people to

  • Eat Well
  • Move Daily
  • Hydrate Often
  • Sleep More
  • Love, Laugh, and Connect.

Wendy Wheelwright
Steve Mencher / KRCB - North Bay Public Media

Today, we talk with Wendy Wheelwright, project manager for a county-wide counseling initiative called HOPE – for Helping, Outreach, Possibilities, and Empowerment. It aims to help people suffering physical and mental effects of October’s fires. The counseling is free, and can be accessed anywhere.

Advocates for non-English-speakers pose at Sonoma County offices
KRCB/Steve Mencher

Thursday, a group of activists met with Sonoma County’s disaster planning team.

They presented their findings that October’s fires had uncovered severe shortcomings in the county’s communication strategy. Those who couldn’t speak English, the group says, did not have the same access to life-saving information, especially in the chaotic first moments of the fire. Those problems have continued during the recovery.

News director Steve Mencher spoke with some members of the group who will be presenting recommendations June 11 to the county Board of Supervisors.

Ceremonies at first Coffey Park house in Santa Rosa to be given a certificate of occupancy after fire rebuilding
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The last week of May, a milestone was reached in Coffey Park – elected officials and neighbors gathered to celebrate the completion of Dan Bradford’s home – the first to gain a certificate of occupancy in the fire-devastated area.

KRCB News Director Steve Mencher was there as the festivities got underway.

combustible materials
UC Dept of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Wednesday is the final day of a three day meeting on the Sonoma State campus called Living with Fire in California’s Coast Ranges. Participants are taking part in field trips today to areas connected to the October fire storms. The first two days were packed with talks by experts from throughout California, and from other western states.

controlled burn
U.S. Army

Living with Fire in California’s Coast Ranges – that’s the title of a symposium at Sonoma State beginning Monday May 7. For three days, experts from throughout the West will converge on Rohnert Park and talk about fire in the region – its history, its impact, and ways we can mitigate the damage it causes during catastrophes like October’s Wine Country fires.

Terence Mulligan
J. Mateo Baker

Napa County may not have been hit as hard as Sonoma by the October fires, but the Napa Valley Community Foundation took lessons learned from the 2014 South Napa earthquake and moved quickly into action to aid its neighbors. On today’s North Bay Report, we continue the Fire Recovery Series by looking at how that recent disaster provided a template for fire recovery. J. Mateo Baker filed this report.

Redwood Valley North Bay fires
KZYX

When the fires moved on the Redwood Valley Rancheria on October 8, eleven members of the Little River Band of Pomo Indians stayed behind to fight the flames. Reporter Sarah Reith was at the annual Northern Circle Indian Housing Authority meeting recently, where the men were honored. 

This story originally was heard on KZYX radio in a longer version.

Sarah Tan

With the removal of fire debris moving quickly toward a conclusion, we checked in with EPA official Steve Calanog, who’s been helping oversee the cleanup. He spoke with reporter Sujata Shrivastav.

U.S. Army Corps cleanup Coffey Park, Santa Rosa
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In the wake of the October fires in Santa Rosa, residents of the Coffey Park neighborhood, which suffered devastating losses, have organized. The group Coffey Strong now numbers nearly 1000 residents who act collectively to pool information and save money.

Jeff Okrepkie represented the group on a recent edition of the KQED program Forum – with Michael Krasny.

James Gore
KRCB/Steve Mencher

From the Doubletree Sonoma Wine Country – we present highlights from the State of the County breakfast, presented by Sonoma County Economic Development Bureau.

The Black Sheep Brass Band kicked off the morning event.

Coffey Strong
Diane Askew

Coffey Park was the subject of a recent edition of KQED’s Forum program with Michael Krasny.  KRCB News Director Steve Mencher has some excerpts from the discussion…

Paradise Ridge Winery
Courtesy of Paradise Ridge website

A new study from the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State describes the effects of the North Bay fires on local vineyards and wineries and related parts of the North Coast wine industry. In addition to surveying stakeholders, the authors also crunched the first available statistics.

Honore Comfort is Executive in Residence at the institute, part of the SSU School of Business and Economics. She talked with KRCB News Director Steve Mencher about the study. 

Governor Jerry Brown
Wikimedia

Thursday morning, KRCB presented Governor Jerry Brown’s last State of the State address. Born into politics, educated by Jesuits, Brown will stand, by any measure, as one of the most important leaders in California history. In Sonoma County, we were listening to hear what he’d say about the traumatic wildfire season – and that came early in the speech. KRCB News Director Steve Mencher listened along…

Supervisors seek public input to guide recovery efforts at three upcoming workshops

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors invites community members to attend and provide input to guide post-fire recovery efforts at three upcoming public workshops. Each workshop will focus on a different topic, including Housing, Natural Resources, Economic Development, Health and Human Services, and Infrastructure. 

Topic areas will be discussed on the following dates:  

Ray Krauss
KRCB/Steve Mencher

The meetings have a clever name – Conversations Around the Fire. The idea? That the recent wildfires might bring together people in the progressive community to work for change during these  post-fire months and years.

Local residents by the hundreds showed up at a town hall Saturday for updates on fire recovery and rebuilding. Local politicians were there, as well as representatives from FEMA, California Office of Emergency Services and the Army Corps of Engineers. KRCB News Director Steve Mencher has more. 

Sonoma County and the City of Santa Rosa run a joint website on fire recovery. Visit SonomaCountyRecovers.org for regular updates.

Rep. Jared Huffman
Congress.gov

At a town hall meeting tomorrow about fire recovery and rebuilding in Sonoma County, officials will present updates and listen to citizens’ concerns. Among elected officials scheduled to attend are members of the Santa Rosa City Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, State Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, and Assembly Members Jim Wood, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Marc Levine.

Representatives Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman will be there – and KRCB News Director Steve Mencher talked with Huffman about the meeting.

Decorations in Santa Rosa neighborhood of Coffey Park
Diane Askew

Yesterday, KRCB News Director Steve Mencher brought us some excerpts from a conversation about rebuilding the North Bay first broadcast on KQED’s Forum program. Today, part two.

One of the callers to the show asked whether unions would play a big part in the rebuilding effort. Keith Woods, CEO of the North Coast Builders Exchange, responded:

Participants in the discussion included:

Coffey Park
U.S. Army/Edward Coffee

Rains will slow construction activities that have started in areas destroyed by the fall fires. But the real slowdown will come from lack of materials and workers as building gears up. A recent episode of KQED’s Forum program hosted by Michael Krasny addressed those concerns, and our News Director Steve Mencher has some excerpts.

  Here's a link to the original program at KQED.

Rains Bring Relief, Worry

Jan 8, 2018
Rain
Stacey Dennick

This winter’s first major rainstorm is expected to bring 1 1/2 to 4 inches of necessary rain to Sonoma County, along with gusting winds. Local rivers are predicted to remain below critical stages, but areas affected by October’s wildfires are at high risk for flash flooding, mudslides and debris flow.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, director of CAL OES Mark Ghilarducci, and FEMA Regional Administrator Bob Fenton
KRCB/Steve Mencher

A day after visiting fire-ravaged areas of Southern California, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen toured Santa Rosa's Coffey Park and other affected neighborhoods, and met with local government officials, workers and fire survivors.

In her prepared remarks, Nielsen promised help from the federal government for fire recovery and noted that her department "will be here, arms locked, with state and local officials, to help California recover from the fires."

Spending Christmas in a FEMA Trailer

Dec 27, 2017
Woman with dog
Stacey Dennick

The holiday season can be a difficult time. That's been especially true for the dozens of people living in FEMA trailers at the Sonoma Fairgrounds RV Park.  

Brenda Cappel lived on Willowview Court in Santa Rosa for 10 years until last October’s firestorms. She’s been in a FEMA trailer since the day after Thanksgiving.

“I loved my home; it was my Xanadu,” Cappel said.  “I had a really hard time getting myself out of my house, because you know in the back of your mind, if you have to leave like that, you’re not coming back.”

Trucks unloading at Mecham Road landfill
Sarah Tan

About two months ago the North Bay wildfires were contained. Most of the toxic debris has been carted away -- like asbestos, burned plastic, and car batteries. Material like ash and everything else left behind is still being cleared. Independent producer Sarah Tan reports on progress at the main county landfill.

Smokestack
NASA JPL

KRCB News Director Steve Mencher began a conversation earlier this week with Assemblyman Marc Levine, who represents Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties. Today they touch on lessons learned from the North Bay fires, and the Assemblyman’s view of what the California legislature accomplished this year, including extension of the Cap and Trade Program. 

Christmas tree, Coffey Park, Santa Rosa
Diane Askew

Ready or not Christmas is coming. After October’s fires in the North Bay, this will be a holiday like no other. April Dembosky of The California Report visited Coffey Park to find out how some fire survivors are marking Christmas this year.

Find April Dembosky's original report here.

More information on free grief counseling at the International Institute for Humanistic Studies.

Marc Levine
Office of Marc Levine

With the year coming to an end, we check in with one of our state officeholders about what was accomplished in 2017 – and what’s on the horizon in Sacramento for 2018.

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