FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: 707-573-4765
PUBLIC CONTACT: 707-565-3856
SANTA ROSA, CA – The County of Sonoma has been preparing for residents to reenter and inspect their homes and properties affected by recent wildfires. This re-entry needs to be conducted safely and in an orderly manner.
The process for re-entry is arduous and we apologize for the time it takes to open up a community, but public safety must come first. In order to deem an area safe, the following agencies complete their work and sign off: Cal Fire, Law Enforcement, County Roads, Cal Trans, Public Works, Public Utilities and Public Health. Once all obvious hazards are removed or fixed, we can allow re-entry. These agencies are only inspecting public areas, like streets and sidewalks, for safety. Safety concerns on private property are explained later in this document.
Re-Entry Into These Neighborhoods Will be Organized Through Controlled Entry Points:
Re-entry is controlled by entry points to ensure that only residents and property owners are allowed back in to burned areas. All re-entry notifications will be done via Nixle and Sonoma Sheriff Facebook, as well as the Joint Information Center for the Incident. Text your zip code to 888-777 to sign up for Nixle alerts.
- There will be controlled points of entry to neighborhoods staffed by law enforcement who will verify entry passes and addresses. The re-entry notification will include the location to get an entry pass.
- To enter, residents and property owners must provide a form of ID. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license or state ID card, passport, utility bill and valid photo ID, or consular ID. School IDs will not be accepted as valid photo ID. Again, IDs are required to ensure that only residents and property owners are coming back
- If you do not have an ID, the Local Assistance Center (LAC) can help you obtain one. The LAC is located at the Press Democrat building at 427 Mendocino Avenue, in Santa Rosa.
- Your immigration status will not affect your ability to get an ID.
- Residents can have as many family and friends accompany them as they wish, but there is a one car per residence limit.
- A map that shows available re-entry points will be provided at pass distribution.
- The Department of Public Health advises that children under 18 should not be exposed to the sites as there are toxic chemicals that are hazardous to their heath.
- Ash is a toxic material and dangerous to your health. It is highly recommended that you don’t handle this material.
- Pets are also discouraged as they are closer to the ground and can breathe in unhealthy chemicals.
- A change of clothes and plastic bags are recommended so ash and hazardous chemicals don’t go back into your vehicle and contaminate occupants.
Re-Entry Kits and Safety Instructions:
- A re-entry kit with safety supplies will be provided for residents when they pick up their passes.
- Safety instructions for protecting against hazardous chemicals and conditions will also be provided and should be followed.
Support services will be available in each neighborhood:
Each neighborhood will have emotional support services, including mental health providers, the faith community, and law enforcement chaplains.
Media Access to Affected Neighborhoods:
We appreciate all the media has done to keep the public informed and provide information to those outside the community about our needs and recovery efforts. Media personnel will be able to access these neighborhoods via the controlled points of entry at the same time as residents. Media credentials will need to be presented to law enforcement at the check points. You will be provided with a media packet with information, similar to what residents will receive.
During re-entry, our focus will be on helping members of our community return to their property, providing them with safe, secure, private time, and making sure they have the support services they need throughout this process. We ask the members of the media be respectful of the privacy of our residents. Not everyone will want to interview or be on-camera as they reunite with family, friends and neighbors, evaluate their losses, and determine next steps.
The controlled re-entry process will be in place for two days. On the third day, neighborhoods will be opened to the public.