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The remains of homes in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Good morning.

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Hundreds of anguished Californians who lost their homes in an outbreak of wildfires this week now get to face another burden: dealing with insurers.

Some are almost certain to experience a rude awakening.

Roughly 60 percent of American homes are underinsured by an average of about 20 percent, according to CoreLogic, a company based in Irvine that provides data to home insurers.

That means someone whose house was valued at $500,000, for example, would be short $100,000 on the cost of rebuilding after a disaster.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Amy Bach, executive director at United Policyholders, a San Francisco nonprofit that represents consumers.

Ms. Bach said homeowners are sometimes misguided by agents who rely on formulas for insurance coverage that don’t capture all the costs of rebuilding.

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In other cases, homeowners fail to update their policies after making improvements to their houses such as a new deck or room addition, said Janet Ruiz, California representative for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.

“That changes it dramatically,” she said. “If you don’t let the insurance company know, then they’re not aware.”

Santa Rosa, the county seat of Sonoma County, appeared to be the hardest hit by wind-driven wildfires on Sunday night and Monday that killed at least 17 people and destroyed or damaged an estimated 2,000 buildings across California.

Residents returned to find entire neighborhoods reduced to ash, chimneys and twisted metal.

Ms. Ruiz said mobile units of the big home insurers — including U.S.A.A., State Farm and Allstate — had already been dispatched to Santa Rosa to guide victims through the process of starting over.

She urged affected homeowners to reach out right away to get initial help with living expenses.

“It’s a process. There are a lot of elements,” she said. “But get yourself on the radar of the insurance companies so that they can help you.”

For California homeowners spared from disaster, the state’s insurance department offered some advice on Tuesday.

First, make sure your insurance policy covers not the value of your home, but the replacement cost.

And second, said Angie Kinkade, a spokeswoman for the agency, take an inventory of the contents of your home.

Homeowner’s insurance covers not just the structure, but everything inside.

“At a minimum,” she said, “just turn on a video camera and walk around your house because you won’t even remember some of the things you own.”

More on the Wildfires

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Journey’s End Mobile Park in Santa Rosa.

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Josh Haner/The New York Times

Drone videos in Santa Rosa showed block after block of leveled homes. [The New York Times]

• Officials warned that many people were still missing and unaccounted for. [The New York Times]

• The conflagration threatened to disrupt thousands of jobs and valuable grapes in the wine industry. [The New York Times]

• Enveloped by smoke, the Bay Area experienced some of the worst air quality it’s ever recorded. [SFGate.com]

• She called him Peach. He called her the Queen. The Rippeys, 98 and 100 years old, died together in the Napa fire. [The New York Times]

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California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)

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A memorial to the shooting victims in Las Vegas. New details released by the police have raised questions about the authorities’ response.

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Steve Marcus/Reuters

• A shift in the timeline of the Las Vegas shooting raised new questions about the authorities’ response and why Stephen Paddock stopped firing. [The New York Times]

California’s housing deal was supposed to speed up construction. But critics say wage mandates negotiated by powerful labor groups make that unlikely. [Sacramento Bee]

• Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that will purge thousands of the names from California’s registry for sex offenders. The move will invite scorn, but he was right to do it, writes Megan McArdle. [Opinion | Bloomberg]

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Gwyneth Paltrow said very few people knew about Harvey Weinstein’s advances on her more than 20 years ago. “I was expected to keep the secret,” she said.

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Geordie Wood for The New York Times

Harvey Weinstein’s list of accusers grew. Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie said the film producer sexually harassed them when they were young actresses. [The New York Times]

• Three other women accused Mr. Weinstein of sexual assault. [The New Yorker]

• X, Google’s so-called moonshot factory, is trying to resurrect the lost art of invention. [The Atlantic]

• “His approach is really about volume — click volume.” The Los Angeles Times appointed a new editor-in-chief and some media analysts are less than upbeat about the choice. [LA Weekly]

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Ia Yang in a field of lemongrass at her farm in Fresno, Calif. Chefs in California now have easier access to fresh ingredients essential to authentic Thai cuisine.

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Josh Haner/The New York Times

• After scouring the Bay Area, our correspondent found restaurants that respect the complexity of Thai food and its balance of sweet, sour, salt and spice. [The New York Times]

• “I don’t know what I would do without this piano.” A young homeless man can be found most mornings delighting commuters on a public piano in Los Angeles’s Union Station. [Los Angeles Times]

And Finally …

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Colton Hall in Monterey, circa 1890, where California’s first Constitution was crafted.

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California State University, Chico

In 1848, the Mexican-American War ended and the Gold Rush began.

Californians were hungry for stability in the western lands ceded by Mexico.

So it was that a constitutional convention was called in Monterey to establish the contours of a state government.

The 48 delegates reflected California’s immigrant character. Most came from states east of the Mississippi, six were California born, and the rest came from Spain, Ireland, Scotland, France and Switzerland.

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The first page of the Constitution adopted in Monterey.

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California State Archives

The men deliberated for six weeks in Colton Hall, the first American public building in California. They chose San Jose as the state capital, and the Sierra Nevada as the state’s eastern border.

After heated debate, slavery was forbidden.

And on this week in 1849, they signed California’s first Constitution, written on parchment in both English and Spanish. Statehood was granted by Congress a year later.

Bayard Taylor, a traveling journalist, described the signing ceremony in Monterey.

As the delegates affixed their names to the document, an American flag was hoisted and 31 gunshots, for each U.S. state plus one, echoed through the hills.

With the final boom, there was a shout: “That’s for California!”

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]

The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Los Osos. Follow him on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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