Fire Evacuees Frustrated They Can’t Return Home More Than A Week Later

SANTA ROSA (CBS13) — As more evacuees returned home Tuesday, several neighborhoods remain closed to the public. But many locals are growing angrier by the day because law enforcement officers aren’t letting them back into their neighborhoods.

“Do not blame the people manning the checkpoints if you can't get back into your house,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano. “If you see a roadblock close to your house, it means we’re almost there.”

People like Donald Booth have been out of their homes for more than a week. He drives to his street every day in hopes that someone will let him past the barricades.

“Oh yeah, of course, you know, just to know that it’s still there,” Booth said. “I’m pretty much not having to deal with the feelings that I feel because if I did, I’d be going crazy.”

Many of his fellow evacuees are feeling the same frustration, but officials say some of them are taking it out on law enforcement. Roughly 200 search and rescue workers are in the Sonoma County region right now. Half of them are with the National Guard.

“We have had officers screamed at, spit at, cursed at,” said Jonathan Sloat, a CHP Santa Rosa spokesman. “A National Guardsman, yesterday, told me that somebody screamed at him that he was the enemy because he was keeping them out.”

Giordano said those orders are in place for the safety of the homeowners, as some areas are too unstable for residents to return. Specialist Jan Hannah Cho is working a 12-hour shift on Calistoga Road and said she sees how desperate some people are to get past the blockades.

“You know, they’re just trying to get home,” she said.

A woman named Lindsay drove from roadblock to roadblock Tuesday night, taking Starbucks orders for the guardsmen to show them how grateful she was for their help.

“I know they’ve been getting a lot of, I don’t want to say any bad words, but people have not been very nice because they aren’t being let back on their streets,” she said. “But they’re protecting us so I just want to give them support.”

Fire officials say the National Guard will likely stay in the area for several more weeks.

More from Macy Jenkins
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