Northern California Fires and What You Can Do to Help
Northern California has experienced an incredibly deadly series of wildfires, resulting in catastrophic destruction to thousands of acres. Starting a little over 10 days ago, firefighters have fought valiantly to contain the fires, but many still burn out of control, causing damage to homes and even taking the lives of over 40 people. On October 9th, fires burned out of control, and since there were no firefighting helicopters or planes in the region, it took a while for fires to get under control. That combined with hot temperatures and strong winds fueled the flames.
Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Napa have all been heavily affected by the fires. Due to heavy wind gusts in those regions, officials warned the fires can spread even more. Thousands of people faced mandatory evacuations in parts of the Sonoma Valley and Eastern Santa Rosa due to heightened fears that the fires would spread to unaffected areas due to the winds. In Sonoma alone, the 23rd casualty of the fires was just confirmed as of October 18th. This makes the Sonoma fire the third deadliest wildfire in California history, with a 1933 Los Angeles Fire coming in at first with 29 casualties.
Overall, the total damage so far has resulted in the destruction of nearly 7,000 buildings, and has caused close to $3 billion dollars in damage when totaling all of the fires. Shockingly, this figure is taken from the claims already filed with the largest insurance companies in affected areas, not including houses that were uninsured. As of now, there about 15,000 people who are still under mandatory evacuation orders, which is an improvement from the 100,000 people who were originally forced to evacuate. Though many are now being allowed to return to their homes, they don’t have much to return to.
In response to this catastrophic damage, Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order which will aid in speeding up the recovery efforts for all of these counties. With the progress of the wildfires continuing to be diminished by firefighters, the process of recovery will begin. Governor Brown’s executive order will also suspend state fees that are charged for mobile homes and manufactured homes, as well as speed up the hiring process for emergency personnel.
For those who want to help out with the recovery efforts, the top need right now is monetary donations. Many of these families who have lost their homes in the fires have at best the bare minimum that they were able to grab before evacuating. Organizations up North have received a surplus of supplies, and are now asking for monetary donations in any amount. A few of these include the GoFundMe for California Fire Relief, Sonoma County Relief, and the North Bay Relief Fund.
With these fires being the latest, in these past few months we Americans have seen far too much destruction and violence. As a nation, we are deeply hurting, but in times of despair, we get to see the very best of humanity. Strangers helping strangers. Brave men and women putting their lives in danger to save others. Kindness and care given to those in need. The road to recovery will be tough, but in the end, we will come together and return stronger than before.