Sonoma County Fires and Disability

Friday, October 20, 2:30 pm PST on KPFA

Sharon Rae Robinson who lived with memory loss, Christina Hanson, a 27 year-old woman who used a wheelchair her entire life because of Spina Bifida, and other disabled people were among the 42 who died in the Northern Calif. fires in the last ten days.

Among the 20 thousand people who were evacuated in Santa Rosa were people from numerous assisted living and supportive group homes including 240 people from the Sonoma Developmental Center, 450 people from Oakmont assisted living facilities, and both the Sutter and Kaiser hospitals. A private school for autistic students of mixed income in the Wells Fargo Center burned down.

We talk with Lake Kowell, a staff member at Disability Services and Legal Center who lives with a spinal cord injury, has spent many days working in the Local Assistance and Evacuation Centers.

Some of the information we discuss in this program:

  1. Governor Brown’s veto of SB 649 which would have made it easier to build cell phone towers.

  2. Fire Fund for People with Disabilities.  The California Foundation for Independent Living Centers has established the Richard Devylder Disaster Relief Fund. Donations made to the fund will be used to assist survivors with disabilities across the state who have lost their critical mobility and accessibility devices such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, hearing aids and communication devices in the fires.
  3. Gift Cards for people with disabilities.  Sterling Adaptives and Adaptive Technology Service will match donations. For very $10. you give, $30 will be given to people with disabilities. Mail cards to:
    62A Brookwood Avenue

    Santa Rosa, CA 95404
  4. Investigation of Varenna and Villa Capri licensed care facilities in the Oakmont Senior Living Development by the California Department of Social Services.  That department also does routine reviews of all assisted living facilities which were evacuated before people can return. (All 430 residents of these two care homes were evacuated safely.)
  5. Lake Kowell’s “Dancing with the Stars” performance.  A Raven Performing Arts Theater fundraiser, Saturday Nov 4, 7:30 pm.  Some proceeds to fire victims.
  6. Electronic Visit Verification could mean onerous new rules for IHSS workers, the people who help us live independent lives. The State of California is being pressured to comply with a new Federal mandate. It could require workers and people with disabilities to call into an electronic system as they move from task to task. It is being resisted. If you want to get involved in pushing back against these new rules, send me an e-mail at

Produced by Adrienne Lauby.  Hosted by Shelley Berman and Adrienne Lauby.


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