DON’T COME WITH AN
When the Tubbs Fire — one of over a dozen Northern
California blazes that burned for weeks in October 2017
— was finally fully contained on October 31, the damage
was hard to quantify. In total, the Tubbs Fire burned more
than 5,600 structures and nearly 37,000 acres of land. In
Santa Rosa alone, over 2,800 homes were destroyed, and
at least 22 lives were lost.
Those numbers reflect but one of the wildfires that
together would cause $9.4 billion in damages and lead to
the week of October 8, 2017, being declared “the deadliest
week of wildfires in California history.” When it came time
to discuss recovery efforts, the question of where to begin
seemed almost existential. After all, where does one start
when the world is covered in ash?
For Michael Mondavi, founder of Folio Fine Wine
Partners, the answer came thanks to a telephone call from
an old friend.
“I got involved right after the fires when Darius Anderson
called,” Mondavi says. “He asked if I would be interested in
working with him to make sure that Napa, Sonoma, Lake and
Mendocino [counties] all continued to get the proper support
for years to come. To me, it was a rhetorical question.”
Anderson, the CEO and founder of Kenwood
Investments LLC, quickly succeeded in recruiting
Mondavi — along with a host of other notables from across
Northern California — to join the board of the newly cre-
ated Rebuild North Bay Foundation. Its mission: to rebuild
the North Bay to be better, safer, greener and more effi-
cient, while sustaining momentum for the long-term focus
such an effort would require.
Alongside Mondavi on Rebuild’s board of directors are
wine pioneer Tuck Beckstoffer, Kaiser Permanente’s Judy
Coffey, Hansel Auto Group president Henry Hansel and
many more. They are pooling resources, taking meetings
and offering guidance to a community that continues to
navigate its way through an unprecedented crisis. At the
helm is Rebuild North Bay’s executive director, Jennifer
Gray Thompson, a lifelong Sonoma Valley resident.
Thompson compares the work of Rebuild North Bay to
a fifth-floor walk-up apartment — with at least that many
steps and levels required to ultimately reach the door way
that leads to a sustainable future.
“The needs change pretty constantly,” she notes.
“Rebuild North Bay Foundation is dedicated to being here
and being at its most active from one year post-fire to five
to 10 years post-fire.”
In other words, the work is only just beginning.
EVERYONE INVOLVED in the North Bay fire recovery
efforts seems eager to emphasize one point above all else:
the bellwether of a year may be notable from a news cycle
perspective, but disasters like the one that occurred last
fall don’t operate on convenient timelines.
“This fire was not just a one-day fire,” Mondavi says.
“This fire went on for over 10 days. We could have a one-
year anniversary for 10 days in a row. Our concern is that in
six months or in a year or in two years, when it’s no longer in
the news, people won’t be paying attention — and yet that’s
when the true rebuilding begins.”
Part of Rebuild’s plan to ensure the North Bay’s recov-
ery efforts aren’t forgotten is to stay in close contact with
the federal government and advocates in the nation’s capi-
tal. As part of a delegation that visited Washington, D.C.,
this January, Mondavi met with leaders like Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Mick Mulvaney of the
Office of Management and Budget.
“One of the many takeaway lessons that I got in
Washington, D.C., is that everything in a state that goes
through FEMA has to have the approval of the Office of the
Governor,” Mondavi notes. “The big message I got was if
Napa and Sonoma and Mendocino and Lake all went separately to the governor’s office, it would bog things down.”
Thus, one core aspect of Rebuild North Bay’s focus has
been to assist with communication between counties and
ensure that all efforts toward recovery pay the biggest possible dividends. On a large scale, this means asking county
officials to each select one request and one proposal to
send to the Office of the Governor to prevent the logjam a
piecemeal approach might cause.
On a smaller level, it means helping those with some-
thing to offer connect with those in need.
AT THE EPICENTER of the Tubbs Fire devestation, Santa
Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood was leveled last October.
A FENCE IS NOT THAT SEXY,
I KNOW, BUT IT MEANS A LOT TO
THE PERSON BEHIND IT.