The Heroic Efforts of Wine Writer Sarah Stierch During the Wine Country Fires
In moments of disaster, there are always people who step up and go well beyond what could well be expected of them.
At 4:11am on Monday Morning, Sarah Stierch, a wine writer located in the town of Sonoma, set out on what has and continues to be a heroic effort to keep her community members informed during what is surely the most trying moments of their lives. At 4:11am on that early morning Sarah sent out this message via Twitter:
— Sarah Stierch (@Sarah_Stierch) October 9, 2017 4:11am
This was the first of what will be 1,000+ tweets from Ms. Stierch over the next few days. Her near continuous Twitter updates have been (By Far) the most important source of information on the devastating fires that hit Wine Country, and particularly those in the Sonoma Valley. When this is all said and done a lot of people will be recognized for their heroism, their generosity and their contribution to their community during very difficult times. When the Sonoma Valley community gets around to honoring the heroes that stepped up during the Wine Country Fires, Ms. Stierch deserves to be near the top of that list.
Sarah is a wine and hospitality writer and photographer who contributes primarily to Sonoma Magazine, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat and NorthBay Biz. She lives in downtown Sonoma. She is a long time editor of Wikipedia. It turns out too that Sarah earned a Masters degree from George Washington University in Museum Studies. How perfectly cool!!
During the course of her critical Twitter reporting, she went mobile to get the news herself, took and passed on regular updates from her followers, had to evacuate to safer confines, and, when possible, found time to sleep.
Through it all many of us looked for reliable information on where the fire was, where it was heading, which roads were open and closed, what had been lost and what had been saved, what was needed by evacuees, where one could evacuate to, who was speaking officially for the community and what the prospects looked like based on weather patterns. It was rare you had to look further than Sarah Stierch’s Twitter feed for any of this information. And, equally important, Sarah has never speculated beyond what she could quickly confirm or deny and didn’t allow wild rumors to fly through her feed. You can’t say this for so many others, including some people who should know better.
As I write, Sarah has been at it for about four and a half days. Most recently, she used her Twitter feed to let folks in Sonoma know which restaurants were open for business. It’s a small and somewhat insignificant notice. However, it’s exactly the kind of notice that sustains a community when too much chaos is in the air.
It strikes me that down the road….very far down the road…someone is going to write the story of the Wine Country Fires. They will do documentaries. Maybe dramatic films. The amount of primary source material available will be so great no one person is likely to be able to corral it all. What they will need is a good source for reliable, on-the-spot, real-time, running commentary. For this reason alone the Twitter feed of Sarah Stierch and others ought to be preserved.
Among many others, Sarah Stierch is a local hero whose work put many minds in the Sonoma Valley at ease during a time when becoming at ease was a pretty difficult thing to do. You can continue to follower her Twitter feed: @sarah_Stierch