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Recovery plans for Sonoma and beyond already underway

While Sonomans cast their eye this week on encroaching flames, some were already looking a bit further down the road – to fundraising and eventual rebuilding efforts.

Even as the local devastation continues to ratchet up, local officials are already putting the time frame for recovery anywhere from three to five years to as long as a decade.

To that end, on Wednesday, Sonoma resident Darius Anderson, CEO of Kenwood Investments, announced plans for the formation of a nonprofit called Rebuild North Bay, an organization aimed at leveraging public and private sector influence in an effort to “advocate for the necessary resources that the region needs now and into the future,” according to a press statement.

Anderson, who is also the managing partner of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns the Index-Tribune, will spearhead the effort, which plans to launch as a 501(c)(4) type of nonprofit, a status which allows for political lobbying at the state and federal levels. Rebuild North Bay will focus not only on Sonoma, but on assistance to surrounding counties including Napa, Solano, Lake and Mendocino.

Anderson told the Index-Tribune the organization will enlist various community leaders to helm committees focused on recovery efforts for everything from immediate funding needs to long-term advocacy for infrastructure and the environment.

Anderson said one of the goals is to keep the recovery efforts front and center long after the smoke clears.

“Once the hardship is gone, people tend to forget,” said Anderson.

Among the people already committed to the effort, according to the press release, are former Congressman Doug Bosco, former director of the Sonoma Land Trust Ralph Benson, attorney Richard Idell, and Sonoma State University Dean of School of Business and Economics William Silver. Others joining the effort include Dave Graham, Les Perry, Rob Wexler and Ken Garcia.

Given the amount of devastation in the North Bay, “it is imperative that these recovery efforts start now,” said Anderson, who said he’d driven through much of the scorched-earth Valley this week and witnessed firsthand the ruin wrought by the fires. “It was like, oh my god, this is a war zone,” said Anderson.

Rebuild North Bay is looking for more business, environmental and community leaders to assist. Email info@rebuildnorthbay.org.

In another effort to address the longterm needs for fire recovery, the Community Foundation Sonoma County has launched what’s being called the Sonoma County Resilience Fund.

“After the frenzy and chaos of a devastating disaster like this one passes, the long road to recovery and rebuilding begins – and it is here that philanthropy can play a distinct and critical role,” said Elizabeth Brown, president and CEO of the Community Foundation Sonoma County. “With our deep relationships with local nonprofits, government officials, and community leaders, community foundations are often in the best position to hold funds, make grants, and support our communities.

People can donate online to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund by mailing a check to Community Foundation Sonoma County, 120 Stony Point Road, Suite 220, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Indicate “Sonoma County Resilience Fund” in the memo line.

Rotary of Sonoma Valley is currently fundraising and the service club has released $10,000 from its general fund to match all donations. Donations are being accepted at youcaring.com/sonomafires. The money they raise will be used to provide any needed service, goods or funds in the days and weeks to come for Sonoma Valley fire victims, evacuees and first responders.

Rotary is also accepting non-monetary donations, including non-perishable food, blankets, bedding, personal hygiene etc. Members will distribute where needed, when needed. Drop donations at 1777 W. Watmaugh Road at the Field of Greens Barn, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Email Jason at jason.walsh@sonomanews.com and Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.