Local charities and residents went to Costco to buy supplies for the fleeing families. California Highway Patrol Officer Quintin Shawk took relatives and other evacuees into his home and office, as did many others.
“It’s like a refugee camp,” at his office, Shawk said.
Community members fed breakfast to some 200 people on the beach alone, and Patricia Ginochio, who owns a restaurant, opened the eatery for 300 more to sleep, she said. The evacuees’ arrival was heralded by a long line of headlights heading to beaches.
“The kids were scared,” Ginochio said, adding that temperatures by the beach drop dramatically at night. “They were shivering and freezing.”
Some lucky evacuees returned to find what they least expected.
Anna Brooner was prepared to find rubble and ashes after fleeing Santa Rosa’s devastated Coffey Park neighborhood.
Then she got a call from a friend: “You’re not going to believe this.” Her home was one of only a handful still standing.
“I swore when I left I was never coming back to this place,” she said. “I feel so bad for all the other people. All of us came back thinking we had nothing left.”