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IT COMFORTED Sarah Tukman’s broken heart to return to the ruins of her home at Wallace and Riebli roads northeast of Santa Rosa and see that her beehive was still intact.

She found it quite miraculous the bees were alive.

“It was the one thing that was still kind of alive on the property,” Sarah said.

Then somebody sneaked onto her land and stole the beehive, which bears the painted handprints her daughter applied years ago. “It was like my silver lining,” she said.

And there’s more. Sarah emailed neighbors to inform them about the theft, and learned some of them have been looted, too.

It appears that months after the firestorms, some people are trolling burned areas and helping themselves to property. One of Sarah’s neighbors lost tools he needed for cleanup; parts from another’s tractor were removed and carted off.

Beware.

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Melissa and Randall Popkin are trying to stay positive. But as they wrestle with what it might take to rebuild their burned home off Mark West Springs, a burning feeling tells them the numbers aren’t going to work.

Frustrated and frightened, Melissa asks, “Does anybody care if 5,000 people can’t afford to rebuild in Sonoma County? What’s going to happen to our community when all of us have to leave?”

What haunts her and Randall is the prospect that if they go ahead and hire a contractor to commence construction of a new home, they’ll have no way to contain potentially huge cost hikes caused by crisis pricing of labor and materials.

The Popkins find it quite possible that at the end of the process they’d have a house that cost them far more than it is worth. Melissa has spoken to others who lost their homes and many hold the same fears, even if they’re wealthy: They’re just not going to be able to rebuild.

“Sonoma County is going to implode if we don’t do something now to fix this problem.”

As she spoke, Melissa seemed aware that what she’s asking, for a way to hold down labor and materials costs so people who lost their homes aren’t priced out of rebuilding and must move away, is a tall order.

Our caring and creativity will continue to be taxed.

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LAWYERS CAN PARTY and they invite us to join them Saturday at the Hearts for Justice Gala, a musical, delectable bash that will help Legal Aid of Sonoma County to help some of the firestorm victims in desperate need of assistance getting their lives back together.

Legal Aid has assisted more than 700 fire survivors and lately went to bat for Robert Percy, the resident of partially burned Coddingtown Mobile Home Park resident who lost an eye fighting the fire and who’s been denied FEMA benefits.

To party Saturday and boost essential assistance to many impacted by the fires, and others, go to legalaidsc.org.

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JACQUELINE LAWRENCE lights up a stage with her portrayals of the slave experience in America and her potent, persuasive insights for unshackling ourselves from racial prejudice.

Thursday night, for Black History Month, Jacqueline, a graduate of Tuskegee University and an actress and author, will speak at the Sonoma County Museum. I get to engage in a conversation with her.

Register at museumsc.org.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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