Now that we have a bit of distance from the immediacy of the fires I would like to raise a concern, or two, that may prove useful in future emergency situations of a widespread nature, directly impacting the Sonoma Valley. If anyone was paying attention to Bay Area news feeds for up-to-date information about the situation here in the Valley, where mostly — except for Glen Ellen, Kenwood and the hill sides east of town – we were on the fringes of the major fires, yet very much impacted, you came to realize that for the most part you were out of luck.
I learned later that KSVY was the place to go for those who wanted to learn what was most relevant and apparently up-to-the-minute, or as close as possible, to our local situation. You might not have known of the vigilance of the broadcasters of our hometown radio station to supply ongoing updates of what we needed to know here.
I hope that our City officials will take some time now, before the next crisis hits, to determine the best place for us to get the news we most need for Sonoma, whether it be via KSVY, or one of the websites of our local papers, or perhaps the city’s website itself or maybe best, all the above, providing the same reliable, immediate news directly linked to information from first-response agencies.
And while on the general subject of information sharing, I also want to reference the meeting organized by State Senator Bill Dodd held October 13 at Prestwood School to an overflow crowd in the gymnasium. Though I applaud the Senator for taking the initiative to organize a meeting for Sonoma, thus addressing in part the concern raised above, in the main I found the event to be very frustrating. During a considerable portion of the meeting local and regional officials and politicians spent valuable meeting time congratulating themselves on how well the various first-responder and government agencies were working together.
Should we not expect this to be happening during public emergencies, if not routinely? It begs the question of why speaker after speaker had to mention this fact. (By the way, this self-congratulatory verbiage also happened repeatedly in many of the public information press meetings coming out of both Napa and Sonoma Counties.) At the Prestwood gathering it got to the point that folks were beginning to leave the meeting before written questions (please!) from the audience were addressed in the waning minutes of the allotted time. What I feel was most needed was a boots-on-the-ground official from Cal Fire (one of whom was present and spoke briefly and relevantly, but primarily before the written Q and A session) to address questions directly from the audience with need-to-know, anxiety-quelling information.
I am grateful for the work of all first responders during these past two weeks, especially our fire-fighters, but I do hope that in the future for Sonoma Valley we can find the most efficient way to get vital information out to the public in a timely and relevant fashion.
— Tim Boeve, Sonoma