Feds to Chip in $7 Million For Wildfire Recovery in Sonoma County

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The federal government on Monday announced it will provide more than $7 million in assistance to wildfire recovery in the North Bay.

The announcement was made after North Bay leaders met with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Fleming at Santa Rosa Junior College, and NBC Bay Area learned the funds will be used for solar training, construction training and technology to help improve and rebuild the communities around Sonoma County affected by the 2017 firestorm.

The fires destroyed about 5,000 homes in Sonoma County, and many homeowners have rebuilt or are in the middle of rebuilding their homes.

Local representatives said many of those who lost homes in the blazes moved away because they couldn't afford to rebuild. Others were fortunate enough to stay put.

"We rented for a year and a half, lived with in-laws and built this home in about 15 months," Santa Rosa resident Suzy Lackey said.

Since the fires, the state has experienced more devastating wildfires in Northern and Southern California, so state leaders are seeking help at the federal level to generate funds to help with recovery efforts.

"There's a lot of debate on how to prevent future fires, of course," Fleming said. "Our job is to hopefully create or replace things that have been destroyed."

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are expected to discuss a $4.2 billion climate change bond that would include funds for wildfire recovery and prevention.

Some Republican leaders, however, say they’d like to work within the budget to find ways to manage forests and block state law that requires power companies to buy more solar and wind power.

The climate change bond, if it moves forward, could face some tough competition since voters will also decide on a $15 billion bond to build public schools.

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