Brodie Jenkins of Cathedrals, a North Bay native, shares stories of fires’ devastation

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Tubbs Fire, Santa Rosa

Photos: Dawn Heumann

On Sunday night in San Francisco, the smell of smoke floated into my bedroom. A few minutes later, I was glued to the news, learning of the massive firestorm engulfing my beloved childhood stomping ground of Sonoma County. It was 1 a.m. I knew my parents were asleep, but I texted them in a panic, warning them about the fires. Blessedly, the flames had (and have) not reached Sebastopol, where they live.

In the coming days, I watched a nightmare unfold. The fires tore through entire communities, destroying homes, landmarks, restaurants and wineries. Some had time to evacuate, while others were forced to flee in haste with just the clothes on their backs. Many had to leave pets behind and are now frantically posting photos in hopes of finding them again.

Tubbs Fire, Santa Rosa

Destruction caused by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Oct. 9, 2017.

Vast stretches of Santa Rosa have been leveled into a post-apocalyptic landscape—dead, blackened trees and the bare chimneys of houses sticking up from the ground like tombs. A college friend lost her childhood home on her birthday, her family’s treasures and photos reduced to ash and rubble. My friend’s grade school art teacher stood in a pool with her husband for 6 hours while the world burned around them. Our close family friends had to evacuate from their house in Santa Rosa, and we’ve spent the last few days watching the fire practically lick at their doorstep as firefighters fight to protect the houses in their community. The death toll is now at 32.

In the midst of this astronomical tragedy, our community has come together as only the North Bay can. Facebook, often a source of negativity for me, has been inundated with friends helping each other, sharing resources and connecting friends with those in need. A request for help evacuating 54 horses from a ranch in Napa rendered a stream of responses and shares, and folks with horse trailers quickly arrived on the scene to help.

Tubbs Fire, Santa Rosa

A helicopter flies in a smoky haze above the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Oct. 9, 2017.

Restaurants and wineries across the North Bay have dedicated themselves to providing free food and respite for those in need. Friends and strangers are working together tirelessly to help however they can. Volunteering at shelters, harvesting crops and preparing meals, rallying friends, raising money for folks who’ve lost their homes—I’ve never seen such an outpouring of love, heroism and strength.

But the scope of these fires is immense, and they continue to blaze, with winds expected to pick up over the weekend. Thousands of homes are gone, and many more are at risk. Those who have lost their houses must now rebuild their lives from nothing. The North Bay has been hit hard. It will take years to recover from this loss.

I’m asking for your help to support my incredible community, whether it be $20, the donation of goods, giving temporary housing to a family in need or fostering an animal to help make room at a shelter for displaced animals. There is so much you can do.

HOW TO HELP (Refer to this all-encompassing live document with regularly updated information).

Most shelters are no longer taking used clothing and are only accepting specific, new items. Frequently needed items:

Tubbs Fire, Santa Rosa

Destruction caused by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Oct. 9, 2017.

  • N95 or N100 respirator masks
  • New socks and undergarments for all genders and ages
  • Storage bins
  • Animal cages of all sizes
  • Dog leashes and harnesses
  • Hair brushes, hair ties, combs
  • Tarps
  • Flashlights
  • Gift cards
  • New pillowcases, sheets, blankets
  • Tampons, pads
  • Lip balm
  • New flip flops, shower sandals
  • New sweatpants

Follow Cathedrals at wearecathedrals.com, Twitter.com/WeAreCathedrals, Facebook.com/wearecathedrals and on Soundcloud.

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