Thursday updates: Recovery assistance centers to open in Sonoma County
9 PM: County to establish recovery assistance centers this weekend in Guerneville and Healdsburg
The recovery process is underway for Sonoma County residents returning home to find varying degrees of damage from the Walbridge and Meyers fires.
So far, 91 structures have been destroyed or suffered major damage, and that number was expected to increase as more people return home, said county emergency operations manager Chris Godley.
The county is opening assistance centers this weekend at the West County Community Services building, 16390 Main St., in Guerneville, as well as at the Healdsburg High School gym. There, fire survivors can get information about how to file claims with FEMA, insurance providers and other organizations that support fire-torn neighborhoods.
They will be open for at least a week at various times, Godley said.
More than a dozen county, state and federal officials gathered for a virtual town hall Thursday night to begin supplying residents with recovery resources and tips for navigating an exhaustive process that thousands of local residents have undergone in recent years.
A list of the resources and websites discussed during the nearly two-hour briefing would be posted on socoemergency.org, said county spokesman Paul Gullixson.
Officials encouraged fire survivors to start the claims process and register with FEMA right away to take advantage of the the relief options available since the LNU Lightning Complex fires were declared a federal disaster last week.
The federal agency could provide up to $35,500 in various recovery assistance, as well as monetary support for temporary housing relief, said regional FEMA officer Willie Nunn.
6:45 PM: Evacuation orders downgraded in Lake County
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has reduced evacuation orders to warnings for the areas east of Highway 29, north of Butts Canyon Road, south of Morgan Valley Road and west of where Morgan Valley Road meets Rocky Creek Road.
“This includes all residences in the area of Lower Lake, Spruce Grove Road, Hofacker Lane, and Hidden Valley Lake,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the alert. “This does not include Jerusalem Valley.”
Some Lake County residents had been told to evacuate due to the eastern side of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire, where the massive Hennessey fire has been burning in Napa County.
5:45 PM: Evacuation orders lifted for Guerneville
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office downgraded evacuation orders to warnings for most of Guerneville while keeping orders intact for the community of Rio Nido.
The downgrade affects residents living South of Rio Nido and Armstrong Woods roads, west of Foothill Boulevard and River Road, east of Old Cazadero Road and north of the Russian River, the Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday evening.
Orders are still in place for Rio Nido and other parts of the county north of Guerneville and west of Windsor and Healdsburg due to the Walbridge fire.
The Sheriff’s Office said residents returning to Guerneville should look for alternate routes to River Road, which remains closed between the Hacienda Bridge and Foothill Boulevard.
Pool Ridge Road and Old Cazadero Road north of Chimney Rock Road remain under evacuation orders.
5 PM: Russian River parks to stay closed through weekend
Regional parks along the Russian River will remain closed due as fire crews continue to button up containment of the Walbridge fire.
Sonoma County Regional Parks asks people to avoid traveling to parks along the river or the coast as evacuees return home and as first responders continue to respond to the wildfire.
4 PM: Water conservation request lifted; officials say water quality unaffected
Sonoma Water has rescinded the emergency water conservation request it made last week of residents, citing progress containing the Walbridge fire.
“The Walbridge Fire has stabilized, weather conditions are favorable, and Sonoma Water’s water supply facilities are no longer in any immediate danger,” Sonoma Water said Thursday in a statement. “As it has been throughout the fire emergency, our water is safe and we have experienced no issues with water quality or deliveries.”
The water agency credited residents’ efforts in saving “millions of gallons” of water, bolstering firefighting efforts and emergency supplies.
While the emergency water savings period has passed, Sonoma Water noted that the past winter was very dry and urged residents to make water conservation part of their daily routine.