Holiday spirit strong in North Bay, residents brace for storm

Thousands of people crowded Windsor's Town Green to kick off the holiday season, beating an incoming storm by a day.  

"You can't kill the spirit that's in the town here, rain won't keep us away," said resident Jennifer Hansen, putting finishing touches on a Christmas tree. "This is a close-knit community after what we just went through." 

The Kincade Fire scar to the north and east of Windsor will be under a flash flood watch Friday into Saturday, with ash and debris flows a concern. 

The North Bay generally will feel the brunt of the new storm.

Some areas of Sonoma County already received a half-foot of rain during the past week, so the ground is saturated.

Windsor Public Works crews have been clearing storm drains, so they're not overwhelmed with runoff. 

The local hardware store is seeing a run on supplies. A new pallet of sandbags is in stock, $3 a piece, peace of mind at 50 pounds each. 

"We had a customer come in a hundred sandbags," said Alejandra Diaz, supervisor at Garrett ACE Hardware in Windsor. "We're hearing about 4 to 5 inches of rain so a lot of customers are gearing up, with tarps, rainboots, raincoats, along with the sandbags."

Windsor's 19th annual celebration follows a tough few months: wildfire, evacuation, power outages. 

"At least floods are something we know is coming, because we have been there before," said Scott Malmberg of Windsor, watching as daughter Brooklyn,6, wrote her letter to Santa.

"You kind of expect storms, you know it's going to happen, but hopefully not so much that it completely floods anybody out".   

And with any luck, the 200 Christmas trees that line the Town Square will survive intact.

Each is decorated in a particular theme by a family, school, civic group, or business.

This season, many of the trees salute firefighters and the spirit of Sonoma Strong. 

"When you almost lose your whole town, a little rain doesn't seem like a big deal," said Hansen. 

Hansen's mother's group arranged empty baby-food jars on a tree, each with a photo of a mom and children. 

"In this town, we all want to give extra hugs and cherish every moment, because it could have been a lot different."  

The grove of trees will be on display until the New Year.