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How You Can Help Victims Of California Wildfires

The lives and property of hundreds of thousands of Californians have been threatened by wildfires raging on both ends of the state.

This story was first published on Nov. 12, 2018, when three deadly wildfires ravaged large swathes of California. It was updated throughout with new information on Oct. 30, 2019.

Exacerbated by strong winds and dangerously dry conditions, wildfires have been raging on both ends of California in recent weeks ― threatening the lives and property of hundreds of thousands of people. 

The Kincade fire alone has forced about 200,000 people from their homes in Sonoma County. The blaze, which was 30% contained as of Wednesday morning, has burned over 76,000 acres ― more than double the size of San Francisco.

Dozens of homes have already been destroyed by the fires and officials have warned that a great many more are at risk. For many homeowners, the impending threat is all too familiar. 

“There’s no sleep. The stress and anxiety are overwhelming. The constant thoughts of what happened two years ago just keep coming up,” Mellissa Edney, who lost her home in Santa Rosa during the October 2017 wildfires, told HuffPost this week.

“I can’t go through this again. I just can’t,” she said as the Kincade fire crept ever closer to her newly rebuilt home.

Woodbridge firefighter Joe Zurilgen passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg, Calif., on Oct 27, 2019.
Woodbridge firefighter Joe Zurilgen passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg, Calif., on Oct 27, 2019.

From donating funds and supplies to opening your home to someone who’s lost theirs, here are some ways you can help those impacted by the wildfires:

Donate to nonprofits 

Several nonprofit organizations, such as the California Community Foundation, American Red Cross, California Fire FoundationUnited Way of Greater Los Angeles and United Way of the Wine Country are offering financial aid, medical care, food and shelter to victims.

The UndocuFund for Fire Relief in Sonoma County is raising funds specifically for undocumented people who have been impacted by the Kincade Fire; and San Francisco Senior & Disability Action has asked for support to help seniors and people with disabilities who’ve been impacted by the fires and associated power outages. These include people who need ventilators to breathe and medications that require refrigeration, or who rely on mobility devices that require electricity. 

Donate money to these organizations directly. As the Center for International Disaster Information notes, monetary donations are usually the most efficient and effective way to help in the aftermath of a disaster. 

Organizations like the Entertainment Industry FoundationDirect Relief and the Los Angeles County Fire Department Foundation are also raising funds to support firefighters, health care providers and other emergency personnel. You can also donate directly to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Baby2Baby is working specifically to distribute high-need items, like diapers and blankets, to children. 

Fabio Losurdo comforts his horse, Smarty, at a ranch in Simi Valley, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2019. A brush fire broke out just be
Fabio Losurdo comforts his horse, Smarty, at a ranch in Simi Valley, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2019. A brush fire broke out just before dawn in the Simi Valley area north of Los Angeles.

The Humane Society of Sonoma County is helping animals displaced by the Kincade fire, as is Sonoma County Animal Services. You can support SCAS’ efforts through donations, or you may purchase items and supplies through their Amazon wishlist. 

Support crowdfunding 

GoFundMe has set up a page with a list of crowdfunding efforts for victims of the California fires. See it here

Volunteer   

Sign up with the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, a group that coordinates spontaneous volunteers during disasters, or apply to be a Red Cross volunteer.

Sonoma Family Meal, which is providing hot meals to those displaced by the Kincade fire, is in need of volunteers to prepare and cook food in their Petaluma kitchen and also volunteer drivers to help deliver food to those in need. The organization is also seeking financial and in-kind donations.

Check out the state-run California Volunteers website to see other volunteer opportunities and ways to help.  

Elderly residents of the Riverside Heights Healthcare Center in Jurupa Valley, Calif., are evacuated from their care facility
Elderly residents of the Riverside Heights Healthcare Center in Jurupa Valley, Calif., are evacuated from their care facility as flames and smoke from the Hill Fire approach on Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019.

Open your home     

Shelter an evacuee through Airbnb’s Open Home Program. Hundreds of people have already opened their homes to evacuees in Sonoma County and the greater Los Angeles area.

HuffPost

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