You’ve heard people say, “It’s just a bunch of stuff. It doesn’t matter.” And you can’t really understand it until it happens to you. And then, when it does, you’re like, “Yeah, that’s just a bunch of stuff.” It’s not emotional or upsetting at all. It really isn’t!
I had ten years of memories in that house and it seems like I can’t access those memories anymore because that house is gone. Or at least the memories end with the house burning down and it has altered the memories somehow. So that’s kind of a hard part.
People are still out of their homes. People have lost their jobs. They don’t have anywhere to go. There are people in shelters who lost everything, who didn’t have insurance. They’re certainly not out of the woods. There are a lot of people at risk.
Everybody’s trying to figure out what to do. There’s no clear answer, no blueprint. It can’t be fixed in a month; can’t be fixed in a year. A lot of people are going to suffer and it’s gonna be a marathon.
As individuals we go through hard times and good times. But to see entire areas, entire communities go through such a hard time together? That was something that I couldn’t really comprehend before; it’s a little bit abstract. You can’t really know what it’s like until you’re in the middle of it and you look at your friend’s face or a stranger’s face and it’s clear that there’s a lot of trauma. It’s collective trauma. Yet, along with that collective trauma comes this amazing effort that is greater than the sum of its parts. It wouldn’t be possible without something pushing everybody, like the fires have.
Everybody’s working really hard to recover. Everybody’s pitching in and doing their part. As you see with the bikes [bike manufacturer Specialized donated hundreds of bicycles to give to local kids who lost theirs in the fires] and with Sonoma Pride, for example. You have hop companies that are donating their hops to these breweries. And the breweries are brewing the beer and donating it. People are buying the beer and that money is going through our foundation, with no overhead cost, to local nonprofits that work with fire victims. It’s like, how do we create revenue that goes straight into their pockets? It takes a lot of work, with a lot of different people involved. This is an unprecedented event and it’s an opportunity for the people of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and Napa County to become a model for [communities to recover from] future disasters without really allowing it to affect us for the long term.