There’s a large room on the back side of the police department that looks innocuous enough. Most of the time, the room’s used for meetings.
But this week, with fires raging all around the Valley and county, it’s being used as what it was intended to be – the Emergency Operations Center.
Since the early hours of Monday morning, the room has been buzzing 24 hours a day with representatives from various agencies coming and going, overseeing fire and rescue operations and law enforcement in the Sonoma Valley.
Wednesday, as law enforcement officers from around the Bay Area were knocking on doors in the Springs advising people of a voluntary evacuation order, a crew in the Emergency Operations Center was directing them. There were 46 officers from four agencies – the Alameda Sheriff’s Department, the Berkeley Police, Fish and Wildlife and the Sheriff’s Office – on the ground knocking on doors in the area, recording addresses and outcomes.
While Cal Fire is directing the whole operation, the county EOC is looking over the county and the local Emergency Operations Center is coordinating efforts in the Valley.
The walls are covered with ever-changing maps.
“We’re running the operations in the Valley, from Kenwood to the Napa County line,” said Sgt. Jason Craver, with the Sonoma Sheriff’s Office.
Altogether, there are 46 agencies – including 20 Sonoma County agencies – coordinating the efforts of first responders on the ground.
“We’re working 12-hour shifts,” Craver said. And he noted that some people are putting in more than their 12-hour shifts.
Wednesday, Sonoma Planning Director David Goodison and Senior Planner Rob Gjesland were among about a dozen people hunched over laptops while they talked on their phones, while other people were updating maps that covered the walls.
Other law enforcement personnel patrolling the Valley includes members of the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco Sheriff’s Office and Oakland Police Department.
While the operations are supervised and directed in the Valley, all the radio traffic goes through the EOC in Santa Rosa.
Thursday morning, during a mandatory evacuation in the area north of the Sebastiani Winery on Fourth Street East, the officers on the ground were knocking on doors, relaying addresses and whether or not anyone was answering their door. Because the channel was needed for something else in the Springs, the officers were advised to keep a log for later.
“This is all about keeping people safe,” Craver said.
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