Dispatch from the Village

That’s the Barlow on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. Those metal spans you see in the water and at the edge of the water on the left are flood doors, meant to act like sandbags and hold the water out of shops. You may see a problem with the flood doors in this photo.

Highway 12 at Petaluma Avenue was closed all day due to the flooding. The water was over the bridge. Sebastopol was cut off from the south and east. You could get to Santa Rosa by driving north for a while and then turning east.

It wasn’t the slowest day I’ve ever had at the store, but we were not busy. I cleaned, labeled and shelved some books. One, a book on the teachings of Immanuel Kant, had a date written on the flyleaf; 1965. Above that was written the name of someone I used to work with in child welfare. Small County!

Brandy has a volunteer who comes in every Thursday. He called about eleven. “Do you have power? Do you have water on the floor? Are the books okay?” Yes to power, no to water, yes to everything being okay.

PG&E had cut the power on the bloc due east of us. Literally, the WestAmerica parking lot was the border. I had lights and computer function; sometimes I had internet. I had to write up a couple of sales by hand, cash only, because the Point of Sale connection wouldn’t hold, but it all worked out.

I made a cup of tea for the first customer of the day (and myself). She was a long-time customer of Brandy’s since her days managing Copperfield’s Used Books. She had made it in from southwest of town — which was a surprise — and came in a bit flustered by how erratically people were driving. We discussed the flooding, Jane Goodall, and the Mormon practice of stockpiling three months worth of non-perishable food… which we decided was a pretty good idea.

Main Street had power, and I’m pretty sure the Sebastopol Cookie Company and Retrograde Coffee reaped the benefits of Taylor Lane’s closure. As I walked down Main Street to get to the store, I stopped to talk to a gray-haired man in a tan trench coat, with a furled umbrella, who stared forlornly through the locked door of East West Cafe at the chairs still stacked upended on the tables.

I had the chance to browse our stock again, and picked up a birthday gift for a friend.

This kid’s book makes me laugh. “Zittens” are Zombie Kittens. Zombie Kittens, people!

There was a bit of a festival atmosphere. People who had a surprise day off because they couldn’t get to work walked down to the Highway 12 blockade (or into the Barlow) to take pictures of the water. Many stopped for ice cream at Screamin Mimi’s, which was operating as cash only. Some folks brought their dogs and were letting them frolic in the flood water, which doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, but whatever, you do you.

Sonoma County (California generally) doesn’t need another economic setback. For the small business owners in the Barlow, this is one. Still, one thing west county handles pretty well — or used to — is floods. We will pull together. We will get through.

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