Dear Members of our community,
Today, the State Auditor’s Office released a report evaluating our evacuation of residents with Access and Functional Needs during the 2017 fires, along with two other counties who suffered major disasters.
We know you may hear about this and want to share a few thoughts and facts with you:
In 2017, the unprecedented size and speed of the Sonoma Complex fires shook us, our community, and the world. Since that time, we’ve taken a hard look at the kind of emergency preparedness, services and response our community needs, and we’ve taken action to improve. We know this comes as no surprise to you because emergency preparedness isn’t something we’ve been doing on our own – you’ve been with us every step of the way. We appreciate you for it.
You’ve helped us with our alert testing by submitting survey results that help us better understand federal systems; you’ve participated in evacuation drills; you came out to Sonoma Ready Day; and when the Kincade fire came, you knew what to do when we issued evacuation orders.
Because of the work we’ve done together, we successfully completed the largest evacuation in Northern California history, in response to Sonoma County’s largest fire, with no civilian injuries. We planned to improve our care for residents with Access and Functional needs. As a result, before fire season, we reached out to over 6,000 In-Home Supportive Service (IHSS) clients to develop individualized preparedness plans. During the fire, social workers contacted clients who identified as Critical, Urgent and Moderate need, and provided support and connected those without vehicles to transportation.
We want you to know that we welcome any help from the state that makes our community safer and more prepared, and we are thoroughly reviewing the report for any helpful information, and are planning to implement the recommendations. However, we believe the report fell short by focusing solely on the 2017 fires, while overlooking our community’s progress since the 2017 fires. The audit does not take into account our response to the Kincade fire. Instead of focusing on our current disaster response capabilities and preparedness activities, the audit focuses on the past.
Since the 2017 fires we have been honoring the past by working towards the future, but rest assured, we won’t stop there. We know that preparedness is a continuous effort; we can only be #SonomaStrong if we are #SonomaReady.