By Christopher Oak Reinier
West County has been lucky. It has not been touched by the flaming breath of the Monster Conflagration that has devoured so many homes and businesses throughout the county. But West County Community Services has had its work to do on the periphery of the ravage.
Dannielle Danforth, WCCS Director of Housing, supervises supportive services for some 250 low income and previously homeless people located in Guerneville and Sebastopol. Early Monday morning when the fires raged she was on the job in Sebastopol.
There was no immediate threat of fire at Park Village, although large “poofs” of ash and partially burned debris were raining down all over the property. Dannielle was there to be sure the tenants, many of them elderly, were ready to move out if necessary. While doing so, Dannielle realized the toxic smoke rising from Santa Rosa was an immediate concern.
While residents watered down the buildings and property, Dannielle went to the store, bought several boxes of respiratory masks, brought them back to the Village, and distributed them to the residents, many of whom already have respiratory challenges. It was only smoke. Not the devastating fire. But it was smoke that could make a person very sick.
In Guerneville, at Mill Street, Dannielle found a disabled resident walking outside who has respiratory issues. She took her to the evacuation center at the Vet’s Building, where the elderly woman learned there were medical services in case she needed breathing treatments quickly. She was given 8 masks to take home to the rest of the residents of the property.
Senior Case Manager, Paulette Hall returned to Park Village for the rest of the week to provide support and services to the residents. Phillip Tapia, Case Manager for several other living units, who himself had to evacuate his home, spent the week checking on and assisting people at Petaluma Avenue Homes in Sebastopol, Mill Street, Cherry Street, and the Fife Creek Commons in Guerneville to be sure they were safe.
During the difficult week, WCCS helped to support the community-run evacuation center at the Vet’s Building with supplies, volunteers, and technical assistance. And WCCS managers of the Park Village successfully moved in their first two previously-homeless families.