Northern California Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund Update

By: Laura Escobar

Here is a brief update (as of November 2, 2017) of the work that has been accomplished since the wildfires began and an outline of the work that will continue in supporting the rebuilding efforts.

 

211 Call Center Response

 

On Monday, October 9th the call center began providing information to callers about evacuation routes, road closures, fire status updates, shelters, air quality, and is currently providing information on where to volunteer and donate to support these communities. From October 9-24, 211 received 590 calls related to the wildfires which made up 21% of all calls received during this time period.

 

Donations Received

 

Roughly $350,000 has been pledged to the United Ways’ Northern California Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund. Individual donations total more than $62,000 and some of the corporate gifts include:

 

  • Cumulus Media – $100,000
  • Herbst Foundation – $100,000
  • California Bank and Trust – $20,000
  • Pfizer – $25,000
  • Warner Brother Studios – $25,000
  • Community Impact Team and Grantmaking – Napa County

 

UWBA staff reached out to Napa County partners and funded agencies during the first week of the fires. Many of our nonprofit partners, including: NEWS, Community Action Napa Valley, COPE Family Center, UpValley Family Centers, and On the Move were on the ground since day one, providing staffing services in the evacuation centers and now with the Local Assistance Center.

In Napa, there were more than 400 homes burned in a census tract mostly owner-occupied with higher incomes, 95% + of whom had insurance that covers fire. All the home losses are in unincorporated areas of the county. The economic disaster in Napa is also affecting lower-income families as many farmworkers were about to earn significant money in the harvesting of cabernet grapes which would take them through the next few months of winter with little to no work. That harvest, the last of the season, did not happen and those families are without resources for their basic needs.

Philanthropy will be needed for short term needs and cash aid to those needing help with rent. There are other lower-income families working in the service industry – landscapers, childcare providers, cleaning services, hotel staff – that lost a minimum of two weeks of wages. Adding to the service provision challenge is that a large number of those affected are immigrant or undocumented populations distrustful of coming into the Local Assistance Center and registering with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for fear of deportation — although many are eligible for financial assistance from governmental agencies.

Of the approximate $350,000 pledged to the United Ways’ Northern California Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund, more than $100,000 is already in, with grants totaling $105,000 being sent out on 10/27/17 to the following agencies:

 

  • NEWS to provide emergency rental assistance to low-income families that lost wages due the fires. This will prevent eviction and keep them stably housed until employment resumes or they find a new position.
  • On the Move will provide basic needs assistance, case management and monolingual Spanish speaking outreach to inform families of local services.
  • United Way of the Wine Country to provide individual assistance grants to families impacted by the fire. Using their model of direct grant making after the Valley Fire in Lake County, UWWC is screening individual families for assistance. Applications are available on their web page.

 

Next Steps

 

UWBA staff is connecting with other pertinent nonprofits involved in the recovery of Napa County and is considering other grants to local nonprofits providing basic needs and case management services.

 

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