Letters to the Editor Jan. 15, 2018
Oakmont needs fire siren
I believe that having a fire siren warning system in the Oakmont community would be a good idea. We are an aging community where many live alone and many are hearing impaired. Residents complained of not being advised, not hearing their landline or cell phone with any fire warnings.
Depending only on neighbors, the police, COPE volunteers, Code Red, Nixle, and luck does not seem to be fully adequate. After careful research I found a system of five sirens that could be installed in Oakmont for a one-time charge of approximately $24 per each Oakmont resident. The company, called “Sentry Siren” (which I found on Google), appears to have a most suitable solution for the needs of Oakmont. There are other vendors.
Typically, a 10-second blast every 40 seconds is a warning to residents to get prepared, while a continuous blast means “get out now.” The sound can be set to do anything the community wants or feels would be a clear message. The system is connected to the sheriff’s office and the fire department, or any other group necessary. They activate it.
Cresent City has a similar siren system, as does the entire state of Hawaii. Senator Mike McGuire and other lawmakers are considering them, too.
Annadel Park, in all its combustible glory, is still sitting right next to us. The extreme fire hazard is still there. Oakmont should not wait for governmental agencies to act on this. This is a golden opportunity for our community to take the initiative and be proactive with respect to the safety of its residents.
Dr. Julian M. Lifschiz
Grateful in Glen Ellen
My husband and I are fairly new to Sonoma County; we purchased the most beautiful retirement home in July in Glen Ellen. We were enjoying the wine country life, settling in, making friends and having visitors. On that fateful October day we had such fun at the Glen Ellen Fair and at the Studio D pop-up dinner, only to be alerted by neighbors at 2 a.m. that Trinity Oaks was on fire. We barely escaped with the clothes on our backs, and it was completely devastating a few days later to learn we not only lost our lovely home, but all its contents; more than 43 years of our life together burned in that fire.
So many people have come to our aid from this community, but I would be remiss to not give special thanks to Wells Fargo home mortgage consultant Sheila O’Neill. We know Sheila through our realtor, and as soon as she knew we lost our home, she offered her gorgeous two-bedroom Sonoma condo. She even picked me up one day and took me to Macy’s to buy a new sofa and chair. She wanted us to be comfortable. She ordered a new stackable washer and dryer so I wouldn’t have to go up and down stairs to the laundry room because of my bad knee. She had new window shades put in to give us more privacy. She said we could stay a week, a month or two years. She didn’t take any payment from us until December when the insurance company finally came through with the funds. She did this all with a giving heart and asked nothing in return. She helps unselfishly with a heart of gold and is like a guardian angel. I don’t know how we will ever repay her. She is an exceptional person and we are more than grateful for what she has done to help us.
Our Trinity Oaks neighbors have all lost so much, but we have bonded together to help each other in a way that is unparalleled to any I have ever known. Although we only lived in our home for 14 short weeks, we love this community and the kindness and support we give each other. This is why we have chosen to rebuild our home in Glen Ellen. To begin again is very difficult at our age, but because of people like Sheila O’Neill, and our neighbors, the process will be a little lighter. From the bottom of our hearts we thank Sheila O’Neill for the unconditional love, trust and kindness she bestowed on us in a time of great need. She represents the true spirit of this community.
I have learned through this experience that we must feel pain before we can let go of the heartbreak. It will not be easy, but we will survive this. My New Year’s wish for all the fire victims is to feel less pain and be thankful for the community support we all share. We are stronger together.
Blanche and John Mundy
The second responders
Everyone reading this letter, and many others besides, has a fixed and heartfelt appreciation for all the first responders from near and far who did all they could to save our community from the dreadful October wildfires. We thank all of them again for their heroic efforts, and results.
Like the green grasses that increasingly obscure the ash that preceded them, we’ve seen another type of post-fire succession – by no means guaranteed, but necessary for recovery to take root. Specifically, we’ve seen our second responders emerge. Who are they? You probably have your own top-of-mind list. Mine include the many local volunteers who have pitched in to help protect our land and water from toxic runoff, with efforts catalyzed by the Sonoma Ecology Center. They include many others who jump at the first chance to help begin the painstaking repair and recovery of our precious local parks and greenspaces. These second responders also include neighbors helping other neighbors find a place to feel at home, have a warm meal, and gradually grope toward a sense of at least provisional normalcy. At least one second responder I know is a long-time contractor who’d have preferred continued retirement, but couldn’t ignore the critical need (and opportunity) to put that experience to use again.
In my own case, I’ve seen the second responders include not only many locals, but “neighbors” from various points in the Bay Area, Lodi (the same guy twice!), and a family of four taking the traditional ag season “rest” from their organic CSA in Iowa. OK, maybe it’s a bit balmier here than in Iowa – but it’s clear they’re here to show their kids what other parts of America look like, and how they can help a stranger (and I’m not sure I can think of a worthier example of American-ness than that.) Last but not least, in so many cases our second responders include…you.
So, as we enter this new year in this fractious culture on this imperiled planet, let’s again say three cheers for our first responders. And likewise, three cheers for our second responders, all of you out there. If you’ve been too swamped, distracted or depressed to think of yourself as a second responder – but you like reading about what these folks have been doing – please make a New Year’s resolution to look for a way to pitch in as fire recovery continues. There are as many types of opportunity to help as there are types of people, and everyone can be a second responder. A great website to stay in touch with is sonomacounty.recovers.org.