Tag Archives: Wildfire

Out of the Ashes: The story of a Santa Rosa family that survived the Tubbs Fire — and hopes to help other disaster victims

by Marcia Antipa

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The Dorsey’s first Christmas back home! left to right: Lynn, Brendan, Bill, and Brian

The weekend before the 2017 Tubbs fire swept through Santa Rosa, Bill and Lynne Dorsey were visiting their son in Arizona. As their flight home landed on October 8, they noticed the plane was buffeted by unusually strong winds.

Before they went to bed in their Coffey Park neighborhood, they heard there was a fire in Napa, but were not too concerned. However, just a few hours later, they woke up to hear the wind rushing and howling around their house. Then, they looked out the window. “We could see the embers coming out of the sky and emergency vehicle lights.

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Meet Gene Beck Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award Recipient Betsy Witthohn

Betsy Witthohn 420x279From the ashes of wildfires rise everyday heroes. Betsy Witthohn is one of them.

After reaching safety, the fire survivor recounts how time stood still two years ago until mandatory evacuation orders were lifted. Her mind was preoccupied with anxiety as she feared for the worst.

Returning to the area, she found the flames spared her residence. Many nearby were not as fortunate. That experience served as a catalyst to becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Her husband joined, as well.

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Red Cross responds to Kincade Fire

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Smoke from the nearby Kincade Fire mars the California blue sky. Photo by Lindsay Peak, American Red Cross

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here or see list of stories, below.
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[Updated November 4, 2019] More than 400 Red Cross workers alongside government and community partners are providing shelters, meals, health services, comfort and other support for affected residents.

  • More than 6,500 people stayed in Red Cross and community shelters in Northern California. With the lifting of evacuations orders, all shelters have been closed.
  • With partners, the Red Cross has served more than 51,000 meals and snacks, provided more than 2,500 relief items, and made more than 2,800 individual care contacts.
  • This week, at the Local Assistance Center, affected families can meet one-on-one with trained Red Cross caseworkers who will assess their disaster-caused needs, offer recovery information, help with medication and eyeglass replacement and other emergency needs, and referrals to other agencies. Financial assistance is also available to those whose home was destroyed or had major damage.

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Red Cross welcomes a growing partnership with Corazón Healdsburg

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Corazon Healdsburg bilingual volunteers (left) Norma Gomez and Luisa Fernandez-Palacios staff a desk inside the evacuation shelter at the Sonoma County Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa on Oct. 30. Photo credit: American Red Cross|Barbara Wood

Local nonprofit and Red Cross partner Corazón Healdsburg offered a crucial point of contact for Latinx families during the Kincade Fire. The organization staffed Red Cross shelters in Sonoma and Marin counties with bilingual volunteers. They met with displaced Spanish-speaking families or those who were adversely affected. For some, it was the only point of contact with whom they felt comfortable.

Since 2016, Corazón Healdsburg has worked diligently in the Latinx community to create resources and a safety net for low-income families to thrive. Their programs range from financial literacy to first-generation college counseling. So when disaster struck, many in the community already knew where to go: The Healdsburg Community Center.

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Red Cross was there when she needed it says woman whose home burned in fire

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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KerryAnn Laufer, who lost her home on Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg during the Kincade Fire, says she doesn’t know what she would have done without the help of the Red Cross after the fire. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross/Barbara Wood)
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KerryAnn Laufer lost her home in the Kincade Fire, but she says her experience with the American Red Cross at the Local Assistance Center in Healdsburg on Nov. 5 helped her when she needed it the most.

“I’m so grateful for the Red Cross. You guys bailed me out when I wasn’t in a good place there,” she said of her visit to the assistance center. She arrived shaken after having seen the long line of people seeking help in the parking lot of the Healdsburg Community Center.

“What has been a big emotional piece of this for me has been the scale of it,” she said. That the fire had left many people in need “was very apparent in the parking lot,” she said. “It rattles me, even more than my personal loss.”

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Local Red Cross volunteers help others while evacuated from their own homes

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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American Red Cross volunteers Vince and Robin Dieter worked on logistics and transportation and staffing for the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire even as they were evacuated from their own home in Windsor by the fire, which came within blocks of their home. Photo credit: American Red Cross

While more than 400 Red Cross workers eventually helped with the response to the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, many local volunteers who were evacuated from their own homes worked tirelessly on an effort that allowed more than 6,500 evacuees to stay in Red Cross and community shelters even while the Red Cross workers were unsure what had happened to their own homes.

Among the many local Red Cross volunteers who had been evacuated were Windsor residents Vince (logistics and transportation) and Robin Dieter (staffing), and Jeff Fleisher (logistics and facilities).

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Former volunteer applies Red Cross lessons to loss of her home to wildfire

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Former Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer Jeanne Sternbergh (l) and her husband Jim (r), who lost their home in the Kincade Fire reconnect with old Red Cross friend Cindy Jones at the Local Assistance Center in the Healdsburg Community Center on Nov. 4. See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire. See photos from this response.

Jeanne Sternbergh spent many years as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, responding countless times to help Sonoma County residents displaced by home fires. Now she’s helping herself.

Sternbergh and her husband Jim lost their home off Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg, California to the Kincade Fire.

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