One year later: Santa Rosa rebuilds from the destructive Tubbs Fire

One year after the destructive Tubbs Fire, the City of Santa Rosa is rebuilding. 

Mayor Chris Corusey spoke to KTVU Reporter Cristina Rendon about where the city stands one year after flames ripped through the city and destroyed lives, businesses, and homes. He said Santa Rosa is resilient and has a great spirit. 

“In the general sense, I think we are ahead of where we thought we would be in a year, but I can't say that without remembering all the conversations that I have on a day to day basis with people who are struggling,” Coursey said. “We lost more than 3,000 homes and that's 3,000 families and 3,000 different stories and not everyone is doing great.”

Coursey said there are roughly 1,100 homes either under permit or under construction, but some families can’t rebuild.

“The high cost of reconstruction is a big thing. Under-insurance is a big thing,” he said.

In the Fountaingrove neighborhood, some properties are farther along than others. Some have the structure built up and others remain as empty lots, but the rebuilding of housing is farther along compared to businesses in the city.

Kevin Rumble, CEO of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber, said there are signs of hope. Some restaurants have rebuilt. Other restaurants have come in. He said the chamber is helping to connect businesses to funding sources and to federal and state resources, as business owners go through the insurance process.

Progress can be seen around the city. The Trader Joe’s is currently under construction and a spokesman for the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country said they expect to redevelop the hotel on the same site in the near future.

“We are just a year in and while that’s a huge milestone, with a disaster this destructive and terrible, it’s going to take some time,” Rumble said. 

Tourism is down in Santa Rosa as a result  of the misconception by out-of-towners that all of Northern California is or has been on fire, according to Rumble. 

“We are open for business and we have been since the fires,” Rumble said.

Coursey said while the Tubbs Fire is never out of the minds of those at City Hall nor the victims it touched, the city is moving forward. 

“Every day we have people moving back into houses, Coursey said. “This is a community where people want to be and they want to stay.”