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Californians brace for emotional toll from wildfires (Video)


SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A week after fleeing wildfires, tens of thousands of Californians are drifting back into their neighborhoods.

Some will face the prospect of destroyed homes. All will face the possibility of lasting emotional damage.

“It’s never going to be the same,” said Rob Brown, a supervisor in Mendocino County, where all 8,000 evacuees were cleared to go home Monday. “You’re going to have to seek a new normal.”

The fires, the deadliest cluster in California history, have killed at least 41 people and destroyed nearly 6,000 homes.

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The thousands of calls coming from concerned residents in neighboring Sonoma County “have shifted from questions about evacuation to questions about coping,” Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane said.

“Many people who call are sad and worried, the shock has worn off and the sadness, depression and loss is setting in.”

As a former grief therapist, she advised people with a family member or loved one who has lost everything to understand they can’t fix this but they can offer support.