It has been almost three months since I updated my blog. On October 8th, a fire started in the hills outside of Santa Rosa that swept through parts of the city and destroyed about 5,000 homes, displaced about 8,000 people, and killed about 43. For the next 30 or so days, as a County disaster worker, I worked in the Health Services Operations Center. We deployed public health, behavioral health, and environmental health professionals to serve the victims of this terrible disaster and the supplies necessary to meet the needs of the 7,000 individuals living in the emergency shelters. My first event back after the fires was a football game between Analy HS and Healdsburg HS, followed by a XC meet in Alexander Valley at the Hoot Owl Vineyards, and then a volleyball game between Elsie Allen HS v Healdsburg HS. During the disaster response, I worked mostly midnight shifts. I drove to the operations center in the evening and drove home in the early morning. Santa Rosa's downtown area was a ghost town. I drove to work down Highway 101 ... with burned out areas on either side. All of us were focused on getting the job done and, several times on the drive home, I found myself crying as I looked at the devastation. One of my colleagues lost her home in the fire. She and her husband have an 8th month old baby. I have been inspired by how she has dealt with the loss of her home. Dr. Mark Netherda lost his home. I saw him one night at the Operations Center. I embraced him and said how sorry I was that he'd lost his home ... all he wanted to do was show me photos of his boys hugging each other at a UC Berkley football game (Alex is a member of the Berkley football team) after the fire. He was embracing his life and what meant so much to him in the face of the loss of his home.
Here are some photos from the events immediately following the fire. Photography has helped me cope with the tragedy. Check out the slide show for the football photos and scroll through the XC and VB images.