The Valley Fire that started burning in Lake County on Saturday, September 12, has destroyed over 70,000 acres and forced more than 17,000 people in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties to evacuate. Damage is still being assessed as the fire rages on, but hundreds of homes have already been destroyed and thousands of structures are still in danger. This is Lake County’s third major fire in three months.
Through the devastation, the outpouring of community support and the individual stories of sacrifice and hope have been awe-inspiring.
Where, how and what to donate
The Red Cross tweeted earlier, “We have what we need to shelter, feed & clothe the evacuees.” and is asking for financial donations instead. You can donate online at redcross.org. To make a quick $10 donation, just text the word “Red Cross” to 90999.
However, many smaller donation centers and non-profits are still in need of supplies. Click here for a list of nonprofits, businesses and individuals in Lake County who are dedicated to the fire relief effort and requesting donations. As noted on the website, “We recommend being vigilant when evaluating an organization to give to. This is a volunteer compiled list and not all opportunities have been verified.”
Here at Coldwell Banker, two of our North Bay offices are collecting donations. In Sonoma County, the Sebastopol office is accepting donations through the end of the day today. Items can be dropped off at: #100, 101 Morris St, Sebastopol.
In Marin County, Coldwell Banker San Anselmo Independent Sales Associate Linda Gridley’s neighbor used to live in one of the devastated areas and she is bringing donated supplies to those affected. Linda is collecting items at the Coldwell Banker San Anslemo office tomorrow from 3-4 pm. Items can be dropped off at 634 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo.
While general food and clothing donations are welcomed depending on the site/organization, there is a greater need for every day items like cell phone chargers, sunscreen and batteries, as well as survival and recovery items like disposable cameras for damage assessment and boots for hiking through debris.
Below is a short list of needed supplies:
- Disposable cameras
- Cell phone chargers
- Portable radios
- Ropes and other harnesses
- Tarps and tie downs
- Portable showers
- Hiking boots
- Pepper spray
- Personal hygiene items
- Elderly diapers
- Baby diapers
- Canes and walkers for elderly
- Foldable tables and chairs
Helping those who help us: a fund for firefighters
While firefighters work tirelessly to combat the wildfire, many of them have also lost their homes and all of their belongings. Just to name a few, Battalion Chief Paul Duncan and Communications Operator Courtney Duncan lost their home in Hidden Valley, Fire Captain Justin Galvan lost his home in Middletown, FF Matt Maxwell lost his home in Middletown, FF Dave Watkins lost his home in Hidden Valley and FF Robert Hamblin-Taylor lost his home in Cobb.
Cal Fire worked with the “Forestry Crabfeed” to set up a fund to help all of these employees. For those wishing to donate you can mail checks to the following: Forestry Crabfeed FF Relief Fund, 2210 West College Ave, Santa Rosa, Ca 95401. Attn: Olga Leitch. 100% of the money collected will be given directly to the employees. The Forestry Crabfeed, which was established as a benevolent fund to assist the employees in the Sonoma Lake Napa Unit, is a non-profit 501c3 so your donation is tax deductible (tax payer ID 45-3748304). Click here for more information on how you can help the firefighters.
Volunteer your time
In addition to money and goods, volunteers are in demand. If you’d like to volunteer your time, visit californiavolunteers.org to pre-register to provide volunteer assistance. According to the website, “Help may be needed with donations management (receive, sort and distribute donated goods). Other volunteer needs may arise as relief efforts continue.“ The Red Cross is also asking for volunteers. You can fill out an online application here.
Give where you live: a personal story
This fire hits close to home for me. Literally, as the fire is in my backyard (I grew up in Marin County), but also because I was a fire victim years ago and I can personally attest to the survival mechanism that kicks in during a fire forcing one to evacuate as quickly as possible – which can leave you with nothing. As the flames engulfed my home, I didn’t think about anything other than getting out to safety – I fled without my car keys, cell phone, wallet or any personal items. My roommate didn’t even put on shoes.
And we were just young college kids at the time. It was a rented house, most of the items inside were second hand and of little monetary or sentimental value. I had a room back at my parent’s house filled with photos, clothes and memories. And still, it was devastating. We returned to the house not knowing what would be left. The firemen let us in for 10 minutes to grab what we could – but it was futile. What wasn’t physically burned suffered smoke and water damage. This was over 10 years ago, but I still remember the outpouring of support from my college. We only had two months left of the semester. We were given temporary housing, clothes, furniture, and enough to get us through the school year. Those donations and the emotional support meant the world.
So while I can’t begin to fully understand what these victims are going through losing entire homes and communities, I have a small idea. And I know how much any help of money, goods or time will mean to those affected.