Juliana LeRoy

Juliana LeRoy of Windsor

Like most of you, we evacuated Windsor with the mandatory evacuation warning. Like most of you, our lives were completely upended for a good week, but with an aura of absolute gratitude overlaying all the stresses and upheaval contained in that week.

The morning of the evacuation, I had already begun assembling some things like four days of clothes for each of us, our bathroom kits, medications, photos and albums, etc., with the idea that, if I needed to put them back, so be it… if I needed to pack them, so be it.

So, I had the “Taking Thomas Overnight Kit” right on the front burner. This meant his special foods, his special bedding/pillow/flashlight, his electronic devices and chargers, etc. I gave him a bag and told him to gather anything he thought he might need or want for a few days, and for those playing along at home, it included multiple Bear in the Big Blue House DVDs, some Barbie as various princesses DVDs, two electric razors, and a container with coins. (Surprisingly, the used lottery scratchers didn’t make the cut.)

I had also pulled down our cat carrier and put some food in a large Ziplock, just in case.

When the actual notice came in, I was halfway there – I just pulled a few food items, some sweatshirts, and the remainder of the electronics (laptop, hard drive) and chargers, then went to hunt down the cat.

Posey has a secret hiding spot that everyone knows about under Thomas’s bed, but in and up on the mesh fabric under the box spring, which she uses as a hammock-type sleeping spot. Coaxing her out is impossible, so I resorted to upending the whole thing and having Avery cut the fabric to get to the cat, then using the stunned disbelief to get her actually into her carrier. (She was shocked, I tell you!)

We evacuated to Matt’s mom’s house in Northwest Santa Rosa, settled in, and then were re-evacuated early Sunday morning to two different houses. (Avery and Mom went to our best friends’ house in Rohnert Park, where at one point they had 21 people, five dogs and three cats, but had electricity, heat and internet; and Thomas, Matt, Posey and I to Matt’s dad’s, where he had no electricity, no heat and no internet. One group had more fun. Just saying.)

Like most of you, we listened to and searched for any news available. Like most of you, we held our breath as the fire approached Windsor. Like most of you, we cried tears of joy when we realized the amazing effort put forth by the firefighters and all the forces behind them saved our town.

When Santa Rosa opened up, we relocated back to Matt’s mom’s, and regrouped. We knew our home was on the front lines, being half a block from the Foothills Regional Park, but not knowing exactly what to expect. Property damage? Smoke damage? We didn’t know.

It turns out our house — and our street — are remarkably unscathed. The homes that backed to the park sustained some damage in the backyards, and there were a few fences that were damaged, but overall, the before and after pictures look untouched. The smell inside the house was pretty bad, and we are waiting to hear from a restoration company just what needs to be done to clean it, but Matt spent hours and hours and hours sprinkling baking soda and vacuuming, running exhaust fans, running air purifiers, changing air filters and running the HVAC on circulate, dusting and wiping down surfaces… all while waiting for the magical, elusive PG&E guys.

In the meantime, we are still at Matt’s mom’s, and we’ll probably be making at least one more relocation before we get to return home, as we make way for Matt’s sister and her three littles to arrive from Pittsburgh on Thursday. Posey has found some mysterious portal that she disappears to and reappears from — no doubt spooked by the cat carrier’s presence — but overall, we have all adjusted remarkably to this New Life Event. (Especially since we now have the internet back.)

We’re anxious to return home, but profoundly, unspeakably, immeasurably grateful to those who fought so hard to preserve it.

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