SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - It isn't often that the opening of a grocery store can generate large crowds and parking chaos, but for people in Santa Rosa, the return of one Trader Joe’s on Cleveland Avenue means a lot.
"I was really excited that it was finally re-opened, though I'm not sure I should have come when it was so crowded," said Robin Quintana.
This was the first day it's been open since October 2017. That's when the Tubbs Fire ripped through north Santa Rosa, taking out much of a trailer park and severely damaging the store.
For a community that endured more than 5,200 structures destroyed by fire, seeing one of them come back to life feels pretty good.
"It's like the community comes together. This place burned. And everyone was waiting for it to come back," said James Cole.
Santa Rosa still has a long road of rebuilding ahead. But the reopened grocery store is a shot of encouragement that a community can come back.
With smoke hovering over everything, it is almost impossible for people here not to think of those suffering up in Paradise. If anyone can understand why they are going through, it's the people of Santa Rosa.
One store shopper lost her home in Santa Rosa last year. She lives in a trailer now.
"My message is to be encouraged. It will get better," said Valerie Mims.
Some people have relatives burned out of Butte County are now staying with them.
"Our hearts are sick over the reality of what they're going through. It's so fresh in our minds. And it is quite a bit worse than what we experienced," said Doug Cavaliere.
It may be just a grocery store, but it comes with hope and for many people that can be hard to find right now.