We’ve stayed inside all week, the air outside our windows a sorrowful gray, the sunlight a muted yellow-orange. It is the acrid burnt smell outside that reminds us, once again, of the helplessness and loss befalling our neighbors. The Camp Fire, now 70% contained, has ravaged large swaths of the idyllic community of Paradise in Butte County, destroying 11,700 homes. 79 individuals have been confirmed dead, with approximately 1,000 still unaccounted for, making the Camp fire California’s deadliest wildfire ever. Simultaneously, in Southern California, as the Woolsey Fire burned, 250,000 residents were evacuated from their homes from coastal Malibu, where hundreds of animals sheltered along the famed Zuma Beach. In Thousand Oaks, a community was already raw and grieving the victims of a mass shooting at the popular Borderline Bar and Grill, just one day before the evacuation orders.
There are a lot of stories of people finding ways to help – one such inspirational tale is the work of Lionel Shaw, founder of the EACH Foundation, who over the past few days has driven back and forth between the Bay Area and the North Valley Boys and Girls Club in Chico, delivering supplies and large monetary donations from EACH and other SF-based donors. According to Shaw, the Chico facility is working around the clock because the three other Boys and Girls Clubs in Butte County burned down, as did their affiliated schools. “The fires have left a void in classroom space and other physical resources so the North Valley Boys and Girls Club is now providing triage while a more permanent solution is found,” says Shaw. “It’s a phenomenal effort these folks are putting forth, many of whom have no houses to live in themselves.”
Wildfire has become a part of California life, not only the fear of devastation, but the reality. We know it could be us. We have family, friends and colleagues deeply affected by these fires, and our hearts break for them. We are one California and want to help in any way we can, as we know our neighboring counties would do for us if wildfire ever arrives here.
Below is a list of key ways to support those most affected by the recent California wildfires:
- The first stop for volunteer service is the Red Cross. 90% of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers, and they use both Disaster Relief and Blood Drive volunteers. In addition to training to volunteer with the Red Cross, giving blood is an important way to contribute, as blood drives are often canceled due to wildfire and blood is always needed.
- Airbnb has created a way for homeowners to support to fire victims. This program allows homeowners in the Butte County area (or other specified regions) to make their homes available to evacuees or fire relief workers for free until November 29, 2018.
- Based in Chico, the North Valley Community Foundation funds the immediate needs of the evacuation centers that have opened doors to shelter those who have lost their homes or been evacuated.
- In Butte County the fires have left a void in classroom space and other physical resources. To address this problem, The Boys and Girls Club of the North County is now operating full-time, rather than just after school, to help provide triage while a more permanent solution is found.
- The United Way of California has set up a donate button on their website for a disaster relief fund specifically for Camp Fire victims. Alternative way to donate: text BUTTEFIRE to 91999
- Founded in 2003, the California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts in the aftermath of major California wildfires, as well as preparedness efforts across the state.
- Looking to offer direct support to the families of fallen firefighters or firefighters currently on the front lines? Please visit the California Fire Foundation.
- Donate to the Red Cross and your gift will be matched. Learn more here.
- The North Valley Animal Disaster Group works around the clock to reunite animals with their owners. They also provide evacuations, temporary food and shelter, medical care and adoptions services.
- The Butte Humane Society of Butte County has opened a Pet Food & Supply Pantry to help pet-owners displaced by the wildfire.
- KC Turner presents a Camp Fire Relief Benefit Concert at Hopmonk Tavern in Novato on December 2, 2018. 100% of proceeds will go to the North Valley Community Foundation.
- Sierra Nevada Beer has established a Camp Fire Relief Fund and seeded it with a $100,000 donation for relief and rebuilding nonprofits. On November 27, hundreds of breweries, both local and across the country, will donate 100% of their brewing proceeds to this fund.
Kirsten Jones Neff is a journalist who writes about all things North Bay, with special attention to the environment and the region’s farmers, winemakers and food artisans. She also works and teaches in school gardens. Kirsten’s poetry collection, When The House Is Quiet, was nominated for the Northern California Book Award, and three of her poems received a Pushcart nomination. She lives in Novato with her husband and three children and tries to spend as much time as possible on our local mountains, beaches and waterways. For more on her work visit KirstenJonesNeff.Com.