A mother wipes her baby’s nose and a man wraps his arm around a loved one as they all huddle in the crisp fall morning to wait in line outside the Roseland Village Neighborhood Center in Santa Rosa.
Some arrived there the night before, and all because of a Facebook post that said the Mexican Consulate of San Francisco would meet on Oct. 19 and 20 with Mexican citizens affected by the fire.
“When I arrived here at 7 a.m. this morning, there were already about 100 people outside,” says Chalene Lopez, who teaches Zumba at the Sonoma County community center that caters to the low-income Latino neighborhood. “Some of the families that have been evacuated for at least over 11 days were here at 11 p.m. last night.”
But once those in line finally get inside Roseland, the wait is far from over. People fill folding chairs that snake around the perimeter of the large open space. Maricela Rico-Casero is one of a couple hundred Mexican nationals who is sitting patiently. She says she’s a U.S. permanent resident who has been in the States for 29 years, but she is also a Mexican citizen. She and the other six members of her family lost their home in the fires.
"Well, I'm here because I'm trying to get the Mexican Consulate to help us a little bit financially,” Rico-Casero says in Spanish. “A little bit of money will help us out a lot right now."