Under a cloudless sky with a slight chill still in the air, dignitaries stood to honor those lost four years ago when a wind-whipped inferno rained terror across the North Bay.
Addressing those gathered, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers said, "We're here this morning to remember. To remember the lives that were lost and the thousands of people who were so deeply impacted. To remember the bravery of our first responders and everyone who came to our aid. And to remember the generosity the world showed to Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. As I speak, hammers still swing feverishly, trying to rebuild what we've lost and in Santa Rosa, 85 percent of the homes have been rebuilt or are in rebuild. And what we know is when the hammers stop, the trauma will remain."
After brief remarks and Spanish translation by Councilmember Eddie Alvarez, a bell was rung for each of the fallen.
According to city officials, over half of the 3,043 homes destroyed in Santa Rosa have been rebuilt, with another 381 under construction. Permit applications have been filed for 238 more. Federal disaster grants are also helping subsidize construction of 377 affordable apartments at five different sites in Santa Rosa.
Although few physical scars remain on the landscape, Rogers said the trauma lingers, "We're here this morning to find comfort in our collective grief, to renew our commitment to get everyone home and to remember the lives of our friends and our families who can't be here with us today."