Formed following years of fires and similar disastrous events, the Cloverdale Citrus Fair’s evacuation center committee is looking for interested volunteers.
“In the aftermath of the 2017 Tubbs Fire which sent hundreds of people who were evacuated from their homes to the Cloverdale Citrus Fair for protection and care, a group of Cloverdale citizens realized that there was no plan for operating the Citrus Fair as an evacuation center,” said Jim DeMartini, a member of the committee, in a statement.
“In that event, over 300 people found shelter, food and information to help them weather the nightmare surrounding Cloverdale and much of the rest of Sonoma County. The shelter worked then, but its deficiencies in the face of a fire emergency became apparent,” he concluded.
In a June 2020 interview with the Reveille, DeMartini said that after their experience in 2017, they didn’t want to have to face a second evacuation event without a concrete plan for how to operate the fairground. Then, along came the Kincade Fire. While the fair wasn’t a designated evacuation center during the October 2019 fire, people came to Cloverdale to seek food and a place to park their cars or trailers while evacuating the southern part of north county. People who had evacuated farther north also got stuck in Cloverdale on their way back, since many people tried to go farther north and then realized they wouldn’t be able to find enough gas to do so.
“They couldn’t designate it an evacuation center, so we weren’t presented with (the same) issues, but it made it just more poignant that we had to have a plan. We just can’t be winging it every time this happens and you know it’s going to happen again,” DeMartini said in June 2020.
As such, the committee was formed help the fair come up with a more solid operation plan for when Cloverdale and surrounding areas are in need. The committee has worked with the American Red Cross, volunteers from the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) group and the city to work on an organizational chart that will help it meet the needs of the next fire emergency.
“With the next fire season approaching at frightening speed the committee is looking for more volunteers to be prepared to care for fire refugees at the Citrus Fair. All the committee asks is that if you want to help out at the Citrus Fair, and can afford to be away from your family for a day or more when the next fire begins its march across Sonoma County, please email Jim DeMartini at email@example.com. The committee will send you the current organizational chart and you can choose the job you feel best fits your skills,” DeMartini said.