The Thomas fire in Ventura County is California's largest wildfire in modern history, burning through more than 200,000 acres of land. The fire also destroyed more than 1,000 structures and severely damaged almost 300 more, leaving hundreds of displaced Californians in it's wake. While the fire has been largely contained, dealing with the aftermath of the fire will be a long, arduous process. Here are some ways you can help the Thomas fire victims.
There are a number of charities that are directly involved in a number of aid and rescue operations. These range from charities that help both wild and domestic animals displaced by the fire to helping rehouse and relocate those that lost their homes and livelihoods in the fire. Donating to a charity is generally one of the most effective things you can do, since many of these charities participate in disaster relief on an ongoing basis. Your donations not only help the victims of the Ventura fire but future casualty victims as well.
GoFundMe has a list of verified fire relief crowdfunding campaigns, or you can give to an established organization like the Red Cross or the United Way. A special fund has also been established to provide support for the many undocumented workers in the area that may not be eligible for other forms of support. You can make a donation online to the Undocufund for Fire Relief or make a donation at any Exchange Bank.
Food donations are also in high demand as shelters struggle to feed the sudden influx of people. The Redwood Empire Food Bank is seeking both financial and food donations. Many of the shelters they supply do not have kitchens, so they are asking for ready-to-eat and non-perishable food items. If you live in the area you can drop them off at 3990 Brickway Blvd. in Santa Rosa, CA.
If you happen to live in Southern California and have any extra or available space, you can help fire victims by providing them anything from temporary shelter, to a longer term place to live. Even if you don't live in Southern California, many victims will still be grateful for a place to relocate and get back on their feet. AirB&B has waived their service fees for hosts willing to open their home to fire victims, or you can make a listing on Craig's List.
Hundreds of pets were also orphaned by the fire or separated from their owners. Many of these beloved pets have still not been rejoined with their owners. Shelters are overflowing and foster placement is in high demand. If you can foster a pet temporarily or long-term, you can contact Deassa@JamesonRescueRanch.org.
There are a wide range of volunteer opportunities ranging from helping with clean-up efforts to passing out food, hydration, clean-up kits and hygiene supplies. The Volunteer Center of Sonoma County has an ongoing list of volunteer opportunities, or you can volunteer with any number of animal shelters to help care for the many non-human victims of the fire. The Salvation Army has also deployed a veritable army of volunteers to help with both disaster relief and cleanup. The Red Cross is also always looking for volunteers for a wide variety of tasks ranging from office tasks to hands-on disaster relief and clean-up.
Many if not most of the victims of the Ventura fire can benefit from the assistance of a good attorney. Fire damage attorneys can help victims of the fire deal with everything from legal issues for undocumented workers to assistance dealing with insurance companies. Renters can also benefit from the assistance of an experienced attorney when dealign with homeowners, landlords and other property owners.
In the wake of a disaster of this magnitude, legal issues can sometimes last for years before renters, property owners and other victims actually receive the compensation they deserve. This process can often be significantly sped up with experienced legal help. Experienced attorneys can also help ensure that settlement payments are not only speedy, but are legitimately adequate compensation for the property lost.
— Jack Ter-Saakyan, Esq.
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