Filipino carehome owners and clients seek refuge at Sonoma evacuation center amid wildfires

CALIFORNIA — Firefighters in northern California continue to battle the Kincade Fire, which has burned more than 76,000 acres in Sonoma County — and has remained at only 15% containment. 

It has destroyed 189 structures, including homes. About 90,000 structures remain threatened.

More people were warned that they may need to evacuate in the wine country as strong winds threaten to bring more destruction to areas already ravaged by wildfires, like Santa Rosa.

So far, about 180,000 people have been displaced by the Kincade Fire.

Hundreds of people turned to this evacuation center at the Sonoma County fairgrounds.

Raymond Dichoso, owner of Maryann Gardens Care Home, said he and other Filipino care homeowners had to come up with a plan to flee for safety.

Dichoso, his sister, Sheila Sumabat, who owns three care homes, and their two friends who own three care homes, were able to safely move over 50 clients and 38 staff members into the evacuation center on Saturday evening.

“These elderly, they are very fragile. They have dementia, Parkinson’s, and so they might not know what’s going on. We try to redirect them if they’re anxious or getting nervous. We make them calm.”

Dichoso said taking care of clients is much more than a job.

“It is a calling. I always tell my sister, I said, I guess this is our vocation because way back in the Philippines we grew up with our grandparents. So it’s a big responsibility but you have to do it with a good heart and good intentions.”

Dichoso remains optimistic that the winds would eventually calm down long enough for the firefighters to fully contain the blaze.

“Filipinos are very resilient. And also, they’re not only resilient. They’re also prayerful. They’re very prayerful. So with resilience and prayer, strong prayer and strong faith in God we’ll overcome the situation.”

Dichoso and his clients have been cleared by authorities to return to the carehome.

However, they chose to stay in the evacuation center because their neighborhood still has no power.

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