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Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
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Coping with disaster

EDITOR: On Wednesday, I had breakfast with a group of friends, two of whom had barely escaped the conflagration in Larkfield. Their recently purchased home, all the work they had put into it preparing to move in, the carefully selected furnishings, the planting, all reduced to embers. So moved was I by their resilience and high spirits in the face of this disaster that I can barely type these words without weeping. Actually I can’t.

I know that similar scenes are playing out all over Northern California, demonstrating the power and support that comes from connection and community and the sense of what is really important.

It is surreal to sit here in the kitchen, safe and sound, so far, and at the same time be aware of the devastation not many miles away. Places routinely visited, familiar, some beloved, now scorched and lifeless.

It will take a long time for recovery to begin. My friends have the resources to pull through; other folks, not so much. It’s difficult to know how to help. I’ll find some way. Here is something we can all do: be ready for our lives to change drastically, be ready to be radically self-reliant so what help is available can go to those who are truly in need.

I’m packing now, I have plenty of water, portable food, important papers and a few treasured things. A full tank of gas. A plan. Maybe this will pass, and I’ll be left unscathed. Maybe not.

TED ROLLHEISER

Sebastopol

Tracking gun purchases

EDITOR: In all the coverage of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, one interview really surprised me. Jill Snyder, a special agent of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, told Norah O’Donnell of CBS News that there is no federal law that tracks the accumulation of firearms and ammunition by a single person. The bureau only receives information if a person purchases two or more guns at one time.

This should be the first law enacted by Congress. It would be hard to understand why any member of Congress wouldn’t vote for it. Had a law like this been in place, the Las Vegas shooter wouldn’t have gone unnoticed while he collected his arsenal.

I think Silicon Valley super-program writers could create a program to do this in record time, and they should donate it to the government. I, for one, would feel safer if this law was in place.

GAIL BEN-ZION

Santa Rosa

My old-style phone

EDITOR: The old rotary telephone and copper landline have been so necessary during the power outage that we had for two days. Cellphones couldn’t be charged and internet service was spotty, but the rotary phone worked. We still could keep in touch with family.

The only issue was that some businesses only have “push one” options. Luckily, a person will eventually answer a telephone call to PG&E.

I would like to see landlines and old rotary telephones remain viable for years to come.

MARCI JENKINS

Santa Rosa

Pension liabilities

EDITOR: Although the statute of limitations may be the unfortunate determinant in the outcome, there is little question that some combination of chicanery, greed and ignorance were responsible for the illegal juicing of county pensions by the Board of Supervisors.

Citizens have been trying to rectify the mess with the board, outside the courts, for years. It’s a sad commentary that we need to resort to lawsuits against our government to keep the spending process honest.

Even if the suit proceeds, there is no good way out of this. Hundreds of retirees would see their benefits cut. Many of these people, however, retired in their mid-50s at close to 100 percent of their salaries, along with lifetime medical — benefits unknown in the rest of the work world because of their unsustainability.

Unfortunate as the cuts might be, they affect a relatively small group of people and have to be viewed against the increases in taxes and fees and the deep cuts in services that affect hundreds of thousands of taxpayers and county residents as a result of the soaring pension liability.

NANCY HAIR

Sebastopol

More help is needed

EDITOR: Fires are burning most everywhere in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties and threaten to spread deeper into Solano County. Firefighters aren’t able to contain the fire or save houses and infrastructures. Their justification is that they must save lives before they save infrastructure and houses. Their point is well taken, but is it not the job of the fire departments to save lives and try to contain the fire and also to save houses and infrastructure?

If they are undermanned or short on staffing, then the immediate alternative should be to look to the neighboring counties, which already are helping. They should be looking for help from the other states also. America has 50 states. They should all be here to put away the fire before it does more damage and costs the state trillions of dollars.

IFTI AHMED

Petaluma

No longer beautiful

EDITOR: I used to be proud that the United States was a country of laws. I am no longer proud — not when I see that these laws have enabled hate-filled, deranged people to buy as many guns as they want; not when all citizens aren’t treated equally and protected by our law enforcement; not when parents can be wrenched away from their young and needy children; not when we have a bellicose president who thrives on insults, belittles foes, threatens other nations with annihilation and believes climate change is “fake news.”

At this time, it is fitting not to stand for our national anthem or even for “America the Beautiful” — because it’s not.

LINDA WARD

Santa Rosa

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