Wednesday, October 11, 2017

California Wildfires: Ways to Help

What a horrific few days we are going through.  Monday morning I got my first news report of the wildfires ravaging the Northern California wine country.  A couple of days have gone by, but the very real threat of disaster has not.  Wanting to help out,  I've learned a lot about what we can do to offer assistance and support to the victims of the fires and to those helping fight the fires and assisting evacuees.

I started by asking my CalFire Chief neighbor.  He recommended checking with Red Cross and local faith based charities near the evacuation areas.  The Red Cross is currently asking for donations, which you can give online at, call 800-RED-CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  I also recommend considering giving donations to the Salvation Army, which is supporting many of the evacuation centers,  

NVCC Donation Board from 10/11/17 around 10:30 AM
Evacuation Centers:  Yesterday I headed to the Solano Community College evacuation center to deliver supplies and volunteer.  They were in good shape with donations, and at this time are only requesting monetary donations.  For more information, please visit the KROC Center Suisun City Facebook page.   This morning a good friend brought needed supplies to the Napa Valley Community College evacuation site.  To find out what needs they currently have, please visit the NV College Facebook page.  They are updating it regularly.  For information for the The Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds Evacuation Center, visit the Office of Emergency Services Facebook Page. Many shelters are in need of Spanish language translators.   If you can translate, please check in with a local evacuation shelter to find out that sites needs.  

Getting Current Information:  With things changing both with the fires and with the needs at evacuation centers, it can be tough to know what to do.  First of all, Petaluma has a google doc which is kept up to date.  For information on needs there, and resources for residents, please visit the google doc here.  

Facebook has been a lifeline to hearing about how friends are doing.  You can keep up to date about the needs of many volunteer organizations there.  

  • Visit the Tubbs Fire (Lake/Sonoma/Mendo) Facebook group to get involved in community discussion, find lost pets and offer services, along with the Tubbs Fire Safety Check-inFacebook page, which has a support link. You can post services you have to offer. Search for other community groups on Facebook to open the conversation and get up-to-date needs.
  • Visit the Atlas Fire (Napa and Solano Counties) Facebook group for ways to offer and receive help from the community.  
  • The Sonoma Humane Society is sharing lost and found pets on its Facebook page
  • Yesterday I also brought donations so the Solano SPCA, who are accepting donation of pet food and supplies.  Please visit the Solano SPCA Facebook page for current information. 
Fundraising sites:  Knowing we want to make our contributions count and go to the right organizations, please find additional information about ways to help here:
  • Many local fundraising efforts are on the GoFundMe pages.  Here is a list of GoFundMe pages dedicated to California fire relief:
  • Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) has mobilized its Disaster Relief Fund. Make a gift here
  • The Community Foundation of Sonoma County supports local Sonoma County charities, getting funds where they are needed most, quickly and effectively.

Keeping up the fight:
I haven't nailed down a way to help the firefighters directly, but if you can, I am sure they love a thank you and a hot meal, coffee, cool water, etc.  I know many of the evacuation centers are coordinating catering for the staff.  Check with your local evacuation center for ways to assist. 

Thank you firefighters, volunteers and emergency responders.  And thank YOU for helping out in any way you can.  

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