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Millions were without power at the peak of the Kincade fire. Andrew Lewis and his North Bay neighbors did what they could to find the power in themselves.

During the last wind event of the Kincade Fire, I along with a few neighbors had returned to our Sebastopol homes to prepare for any flying embers. All of us had been without power or water for days.

PG&E was in a bummer of a position, I thought. “Sorry folks. We have to turn off the only service we provide. And if we turn it back on, it might kill you!” PG&E was powerless.

I set to cleaning spoiled food from our fridge, raking up possible debris, setting aside additional possessions that I would take if I had to evacuate. As dusk fell and the Diablo wind picked up, I carried a box of perishables through the pitch down to our neighbor who had been running a generator.

While there, another neighbor walked in the door. She had just returned from a shelter. Alone in her darkened home, the stress of the previous days had overwhelmed her, and she was having an emotional meltdown. She sat on the floor and sobbed violently.


We did what we could to console. We made tea. We cooked up an Angus steak that had been on ice for a few days, opened up a jar of olives and braised some chard picked from the garden. We got some food in her. Others showed up. One with a bottle of Japanese whiskey. It became a kind of mid-apocalypse party.

We told our neighbor that she was fine, that she was safe. She was surrounded by powerful people. One of them, after all, even had power. But then I realized, she may have been the most powerful one of all. If not for her, we would all have been sitting alone in our darkened homes. If not for her, we would not all have come together.

With a Perspective, this is Andrew Lewis.

Andrew Lewis lives in Sebastopol.