More than half the annual state fire budget was used and thousands were left homeless in the most destructive wildfire on record in California with 8.51 million acres burned as of Nov. 15. Through the efforts of communities, shelters, and the state, the burden of losing everything can be made a bit more bearable.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) is responsible for the fire protection of California’s privately-owned wildlands. It is important that the department has enough money to be able to contain wildfires during wildfire season. However, in the aftermath of the destruction, only $11 million dollars are left, and Cal Fire needs another $234 million to prevent and deal with wildfires, as the fiscal year does not end until June 30, 2019. Although donations can be sent to Cal Fire, their budget is the state’s responsibility. According to the Center for International Disaster Information, part of the United States Agency for International Development, the most efficient way to help is to send money directly to relief agencies.
The fires burned thousands of structures, and rehousing the population is difficult. In Butte County alone, 13,972 residences were destroyed. With many displaced, local communities and the American Red Cross have opened shelters and food sites in Northern California. Red Cross also provides contacts to families to provide mental support and help, and volunteers are helping to reconnect families.
Many other nonprofit organizations are also helping those affected. Some, such as the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund and the California Fire Foundation, aim to provide financial assistance and collect grants and money to rebuild homes and lives. There are also crowdfunding efforts to help victims through not only donations, but also by encouraging people to provide a place for evacuees, as Airbnb has done.
While wildfires may not always be preventable, the community will always be there to help. If interested in donating, visit the following sites: