It’s been two months since wildfires ripped through Northern California leaving a path of destruction in Sonoma and Napa counties like I’ve never seen before and leaving a scar on all of our hearts.
I got to see firsthand the importance of community and was proud to see our bleeding disorder community come together to help out the families that lost their homes. I live in Sonoma County, just a few miles south of Santa Rosa, where the Tubbs fire took a turn for the worst and tore through several neighborhoods . . . destroying thousands of homes and displacing thousands of families.
The fire started near the small town of Calistoga shortly before midnight and traveled twelve miles east towards Santa Rosa at an estimated pace of 3 miles per hour, burning nearly an acre a minute. By the time daylight came we heard that complete communities were gone. Schools were lost. Thousands of homes destroyed. Hotels burnt to the ground and restaurants were consumed to ashes.
The fire ended up covering over 120,000 acres and burning down over 5,200 homes and structures and took over 20 lives. I know several people who lost their homes and dozens more that were evacuated during the few weeks it took to get the fires contained.
Those first few weeks were a total blur. Our schools were shut down. There were thousands without power. Restaurants and gas stations were closed. Dozens of communities turned into ghost towns as warnings of hazardous breathing conditions flooded the news. It’s still so surreal now, even after I’ve seen all the damage.
Even our emergency room was closed for three weeks, leaving me on high alert anytime the kids started to roughhouse or Scarlett was put in a situation where she could get hurt and would need a platelet transfusion.
But through all the loss and sadness we saw heroes come forward. Everyday people became extraordinary ones. Sonoma County came together and housed thousands of people, rescued animals from evacuated properties and took care of our first responders as our world came to a screeching halt for the three weeks that it took to get the fire contained.
I’m proud to say our bleeding disorder community was no different. Several families came forward who lost their homes and I was amazed to see how quickly our community came together to make sure these families had not only medical supplies, but clothes, blanket, and toiletries. Trucks were filled with boxes of clothes and other donations from bleeder families all over California and delivered to victims of the fire. I delivered some home cooked meals to one of the families just several days after the fires and she was already saying she couldn’t accept any more donations until they were relocated to where they would live permanently.
Local chapters and non-profits came together lending all support and resources available. it was amazing to see.
The devastation that took place on that autumn night is indescribable and will haunt me for a long time. My children saw the hills we walk and take family photos on fire and glowing orange. They now have a fear and understanding of fires like they have never had before. Families lost everything. Landmarks are now piles of ash. Communities changed forever.
And through all this phrases were coined: #SonomaStrong and “The love is thicker than the smoke.” And they couldn’t be truer. With the help, love, and support of so many people, Sonoma County has proven to be STRONG and that our love IS thicker than the smoke.
Kari lives with her husband, Ryan, and 8-year-old daughter, Scarlett, and 4-year-old son, Walker, in California.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.