Team Rubicon, a disaster response team made up of primarily veterans made helping Sonoma County its next mission. The group has between 22 and 26 people who will be heading out to homes burned down by the Kincade Fire in an effort to help homeowners sift through the ashes for important possessions.
Team Rubicon will be calling the Cloverdale Veterans Memorial Building a home for the next four days; they began setting up their gear on Thursday, Nov. 21 and will be in the county until Monday, Nov. 25.
“We go in and we help them safely sift and sort through their personal property, their memories, their valuables,” said Jake McCormick, public information officer for Team Rubicon. “But it’s more than valuables — it’s things like gold from the California Gold Rush, a lady from England wanted her grandfather’s medals from World War II, things like that — it’s a sense of closure when we can find those things for those folks.”
A regional response team is staying in Cloverdale and is made up of people who live in a 450-mile radius, most of whom are from Northern California.
While Team Rubicon is primarily in Sonoma County to help with specific item recovery, their missions can vary depending on what they’re responding to. Teams of volunteers have responded to various hurricanes, as well as numerous fires throughout California.
On this operation, the organization is working with Bethel Global Response, the Sonoma County Office of Recovery and Resilience and the Office of Environmental Safety to help better inform its efforts.
“Team Rubicon seeks to provide our veterans with an avenue to regain three things they lose after leaving the military: a purpose gained through disaster relief, community built through serving others and identity created by joining a new mission,” McCormick said. “We found that a lot of veterans, which we have so many of right now … have just lost their sense of purpose and their sense of mission. Team Rubicon looks to give that back to them.”
McCormick said that by mobilizing veterans to help with disasters, they’re both serving communities by helping with disaster recovery and serving veterans by providing them with an outlet to help communities.
Team Rubicon plans to be in Sonoma County through Monday, Nov. 25 but said that they may end up staying longer if they’re needed.
“If there’s any additional homeowners that feel that there’s anything we can do to assist them on their homesite, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to do anything we can to help out the community,” said Morgan Raines, incident commander for Operation Autumn Winds (the formal name of Team Rubicon’s post-Kincade efforts).
“I was always looking for a way to give back,” Raines said of her involvement with the group. While she isn’t a veteran, her father was. “I first volunteered after Hurricane Harvey in Houston and I was just hooked. The community, Team Rubicon, is like a family. Not only are you giving something back to the homeowners that are affected by the disaster, but it’s also an amazing community.”
According to McCormick, those interested in having Team Rubicon helping them locate items in the fire should call 310-981-8919.