The struggle of searching for missing fire victims

Natalie just wanted to report her 79-year-old friend Bill missing. But that proved harder than expected.

Around 400 missing person reports are still active in Sonoma County, though new missing person reports are coming.

If you want to file one, you probably won’t be able to file it at your local police department. Natalie Cool found that out today. She tried to file a missing person report at Sonoma City Police Department. She was told to file over the phone with the county dispatch.

“I was hoping they could just write my info down her on paper," said Cool.

Cool is looking for her friend Bill Greene who she lost contact with on Monday. The 79-year-old was under mandatory evacuation and lives near the Oakmont Golf Course.

“I sent out numerous texts and he is someone who would get back to me," said Cool.

The Sonoma Police Department office is closed. The department is being used as a command center and all missing person reports are being refereed County dispatchers.

Calling dispatch has its own set of problems. Cool had to wait for busy lines to clear only to hear she needed to make more calls.

“They just said I have to call 3 different shelters before I can make a report," said Cool.

Dispatchers also asked her to look on the Red Cross website “Safe and well”. It’s a site that displaced people to check in. It allows police and the public to search for their name to find out if they are safe.

“The site is nice but the shelter can’t tell me if Bill is there," said Cool. “Part of the problem is the shelters have to protect people’s identity.”

Cool eventually did file her missing person report. It wasn’t easy but, law enforcement and dispatch have a lot on their plate dealing with evacuees and the ongoing fires, with their focus being to get people out of danger.

To save yourself some time you can search for missing people on the Red Cross website: Safe and Well.

If you can’t find your loved ones there, then you should file a missing person report with County dispatchers.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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