Here we are, one year after the devastating Tubbs Fire that tore through my city of Santa Rosa, California and burned down my parent’s home of almost 30 years.
For me, I still have a hard time talking about and hearing about the fire. Sometimes I’m okay with the conversation, but other times I absolutely do not want to hear anything about the fire at all. I’m getting better about it, but it’s tough, because this was such a community trauma, and it is still what everyone talks about. Everyone heals differently, with some wanting to discuss it to death, and others don’t want to talk about it at all, and I’m kind of in the middle.
It’s hard to drive around town and see the destruction, which is still evident a year later. Some days I can drive through the burned areas without a problem, other times it’s too much to drive by, and I have to shut my eyes as my husband drives through it. There is some construction, but not everywhere, and there are still a lot of bureaucratic loopholes to jump through, and it’s going to be a long road for those who are rebuilding.
My parents opted not to rebuild, and they sold their lot. Whoever bought their lot has started to build on it, and I drive by once a week or so to look at it and see the progress. It’s very odd to see someone building on “their” lot. It’ll always be “their” lot to me. The three redwood trees in their backyard had to be taken down, and the next-door neighbor’s oak tree was taken down as well, and that one was all rotten inside! So, the lot looks very different, and I still haven’t decided if it’s good that it looks so different, or if I’m sad that it isn’t being built exactly how my parents had it.
My parents moved to Colorado in March, and it was difficult to say goodbye to them. Other family members have also moved either out of state or out of the area, and sadly, my grandmother passed away in March, and I don’t feel like Santa Rosa is my home anymore. It’s become a place I don’t recognize, and I never thought I’d say that. On one hand, we are #SantaRosaStrong and #SonomaStrong, and I love that the community has come together, but on the other hand, how do I, how do we, move on from this tragedy? Because that is what it is, a tragedy. Anger abounds. Why did this have to happen to my parents and my family? Why my city? Why my county? WHY? I don’t know why. I don’t have any answers. But I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and I may not understand why, but I do know that God is in control.
I don’t want to sound too depressed; there are some positives here. My parents love their new house, which is located right on a golf course. My dad even recently got his first hole in one! My mom is moving forward with her art and has been accepted into a special certification program, and my parents are now living closer to their first grandchild, my sweet niece Gwendolynn, who was born in May. I’ve been back to visit them, a surprise trip for my Dad’s birthday, and spirits are good. It’s been a long haul this past year, and the Tubbs Fire and the aftermath will forever be a challenge to face daily, but I’m optimistic for the future.
If you’re interested, the local paper for Santa Rosa, The Press Democrat, has some great articles about the fire. Here’s a link to their October Firestorm Anniversary page, and it’s worth spending some time reading the articles to get a bigger picture of that terrible night and the aftermath and how we as a community are surviving. Also the Press Democrat, or “PD” as us locals call it, won a Pulitzer for their fire coverage.
Thanks for listening, and a big thank you to all of you who read, like, comment, and share my posts. I greatly appreciate it!