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Safe living in Sonoma Valley


The merry month of May: our new reality and how to cope

By Julie Atwood

Hi, neighbors! As I write this, we are enjoying a beautiful May weekend … under the first Red Flag warning of the year. And it’s a doozy: relative humidity in the single digits, wind gusts of 45-55 miles per hour in the hills and 10-30 in the valleys. It’s unsettling, yet not unexpected.

Are we ready? And what, exactly, does “readiness” mean for you, your family, and your neighbors (and, of course, the animals)?

Doing something positive is often the best way to cope with the anxiety that is part of living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). And you have probably done a lot already! But like Roseanne Rosannadanna’s grandma used to say (for those who remember the original SNL): “It’s always somethin’!”

As it is Wildfire Preparedness Month, we’ve pulled together a roundup of check-off items and go-to resources to help you do whatever it is you need to get done, now.

It is a Red Flag day today as I write this (and might be when you read this), which means we’re ready to move fast if fire starts anywhere above, below, or across the valley from us. For those who have equines or backyard or sanctuary large animals, it means your Evac Plan is activated and all your helpers and locations are good to go.

It means we’re all doing what we can to help less-connected neighbors with fewer resources: Are they aware of the conditions outside? Are they able to evacuate themselves and their animals? A tremendous part of our individual, as well as collective, preparedness is helping others.

And speaking of neighbors, it was wonderful to see so many of you come out on Saturday, May 1 for the first of three Sonoma Sheriff Evac Tag Drive-Thru events! Along with the “Evacuated” tags provided by the sheriff staff, we handed out “Animal Evacuation Preparedness” packets in Spanish as well as English. Didn’t get your tags and packets? There are two more Evac Tag Drive-Thru events around the county on May 15 and 22, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. See the accompanying article for locations. Safe Living – continued from page 19

You can also pick up “Evacuated” tags at any sheriff sub-station during weekday business hours.

Animal Evac Prep packets are available from the HALTER Project, as well as “Help our Animals” placards you can download, print, and post on your home and/or barn doors.

Resilience has become a buzzword. What does it mean to you? Neighborhood safety, the ability to keep homes and businesses secure and families together (including their animals)—all are intrinsic threads in the fabric of places like the Valley of the Moon. To keep our little slices of heaven, and those with whom we share them, safe, vibrant, welcoming, and home, will require greater efforts by all of us who are able.

We’ve gathered a list of resources where you can get help for whatever prep projects you’ve got on your list, including home safety and “hardening;” fire-wise landscape plants and inspiration; animal safety and evacuation planning “upgrades;” connecting with and supporting your workers, from ag, landscape and home cleaning, restaurant and hospitality workers and their families.

The HALTER Project is here to help the whole community. The website includes an extensive library of resources in multiple languages. Have a question? Email us at [email protected]

Stay informed about education opportunities and events by subscribing to our email list and stay tuned for neighborhood “Home & Ranch Readiness Prep” events as we slowly start gathering again … from a polite distance!

For more information visit