California wine country has been devastated by wildfires that began to scorch the area on October 8, 2017. At least 41 people have died. Video produced by David Caraccio
California wine country has been devastated by wildfires that began to scorch the area on October 8, 2017. At least 41 people have died. Video produced by David Caraccio

Fires

Where Northern California fire victims can find resources – and how you can support them

By Kalin Kipling

kkipling@sacbee.com

October 20, 2017 08:18 PM

UPDATED October 29, 2017 03:20 PM

(Updated at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29. Please email kkipling@sacbee.com if you have needs or resources to add.)

Amid all of the fire devastation in Northern California, some might be searching for ways to help while others need to find resources.

While volunteering or giving goods might seem more personal, the No. 1 need by far in the communities is monetary donations. There is a large backlog of supplies thanks to the generosity of the communities and beyond, so contributing to a campaign or group is the most helpful at this point (see a list lower down). A slightly more personal option: giving gift cards to families. (There are some forms to sign up to volunteer listed below.)

Here’s a guide for fire victims seeking resources/help, courtesy of Sonoma County:

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

Places to stay

  • People have created a public Google Doc on which people are listing available housing; see it here.
  • People are opening up their land for people to stay on through Hipcamp. Check out a list and how to offer your land here.
  • Find rentals here: www.unitedwaywinecountry.org/
  • Family homes or rooms are available in the Sonoma area; check here.
  • Sequoia Equities: Apartments have been available to fire victims in need in Petaluma, Vacaville, Benicia and Martinez. All fees waived. Credit will not be a factor; no maximum occupancy guidelines. Pets: No breed restrictions, no number of pet restrictions. Call 925-239-9453.
  • RV parking, 1800 Lombardi Lane, Santa Rosa. Call 707-602-7879 to check on availability.

Resources for help

  • Missing a relative? Or to mark yourself as “safe.” Visit https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
  • Visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ to find disaster help and resources.
  • There’s a free Northern California Wildfires Community Workshop on Friday, Oct. 27, in the Grand Ballroom at the DoubleTree by Hilton Sonoma Wine Country that aims to address and answer questions. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist; Charles Miller, an insurance expert; Robert Schall, a special agent and fire investigator; Dr. Ray Franco, a forensic electrical engineer and fire investigator; and other experts will be there.
  • Here’s a list of Napa Local Assistance Centers.
  • Haz clic aquí y aquí para información en español sobre el condado de Sonoma.
  • Haz clic aquí para información en español sobre el condado de Napa.
  • Haz clic aquí para información en español sobre el centro de asistencia local para residentes de Mendocino.
  • Visit Sonoma County Recovers and type in your needs here.
  • Here’s a page full of fire information for Mendocino County residents.
  • Mendocino County residents: There is a Local Assistance Center open at the Mendocino College Gym, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, providing multi-agency support services. See more info here.
  • Here’s a page full of info for Yuba County residents.
  • Yuba residents: Here’s wildfire property tax relief and information.
  • Napa residents: Looking for calamity reassessment and property tax deferral? Click here.
  • Napa residents: Here’s how to get help with debris removal.
  • Here’s a list with a variety of info for Napa residents, along with donation drives and fundraisers.
  • Morrison & Foerster LLP has released a Helping Handbook available online that “gathers in one place up-to-date information on subjects that include emergency housing; government benefits; insurance; FEMA assistance; replacement of lost documents; fraud prevention and many others.” See it here. Una versión en español llegará pronto.
  • DriveSavers, a leader in data recovery, eDiscovery and digital forensic solutions, is offering free data recovery to fire victims whose computers and phones were damaged in the fires. Contact DriveSavers no later than Nov. 15; there is a limit of one device per business or household. Customers needing additional recoveries, and those with multidisk devices such as RAID and NAS devices, are eligible for a 50 percent discount off of regular service fees. Call DriveSavers at 800-440-1904.
  • Turo is a p2p car sharing marketplace, and many hosts have opted in to list their vehicles for rent at no cost for people who have lost their cars in the fire or are in need of transportation. If North Bay fire evacuees are in need of a vehicle during this hard time, email disasterrelief@turo.com for more details.
  • Crop Mobster has created a resource listing and map where anyone can post needs or offers of help: https://sfbay.cropmobster.com/bay-area-fire-resources/.
  • Visit the Tubbs Fire (Lake/Sonoma/Mendo) Facebook group to get involved in community discussion, find lost pets and offer services, along with https://www.facebook.com/groups/586292148428439/.
  • Cartelligent, which helps people buy or lease cars by handling “all the hassles of car shopping,” has partnered with Sonoma Fire Info and is offering its services for free through Dec. 31 to anyone who lost their vehicle in the recent fires.
  • Napa Valley College has put together a Fire Relief Fund for students, faculty and staff. Students: Click here for the application form and contact Executive Director Anne Branch at 707-256-7509 or anne.branch@napavalley.edu with questions. Faculty and staff: Contact DAS Managing Director Carollee Cattolica at 707-256-7161 or via email at ccattolica@napavalley.edu.
  • Local Assistance Center (LAC), Press Democrat building in downtown Santa Rosa, 427 Mendocino Ave., between Ross and Fifth streets, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for at least two weeks. LAC is essentially a one-stop shop for services residents impacted by the fires need. The LAC is a one-stop shop with critical services for residents who have been impacted by the fires. Some of the services include: FEMA Disaster Recovery Center; Department of Motor Vehicles; American Red Cross; Small Business Administration; HOPE Animal Assistance Crisis Response; County Assessor and Tax Collector; Child Support Services; Housing Assistance; Fire & Emergency Services; Health & Human Services; Building Permitting Agencies; Transportation & Public Works; Veteran’s Affairs. Free parking off of B Street in the city lot. The LAC is also accessible by Sonoma County Transit and City Bus via route 1. The LAC is just three blocks from the Downtown Transit Mall. The site is wheelchair accessible. Spanish translators and a children’s play area will be available. For more information, call 707-565-385.
  • Information from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC):

- Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) gives food assistance to low-income households with food loss or damage caused by a natural disaster and is available regardless of immigration status.

- FEMA Longer Term Assistance (e.g. Individuals and Household Program) provides financial and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs. It is available if at least one household member is a U.S. citizen or a “qualified” immigrant. For example, undocumented individuals can apply on behalf of a minor child who is a citizen and has a social security number. FEMA can provide information about obtaining a social security number for a minor child. The minor child must live with the parent/guardian applying on his/her behalf.

- Disaster Unemployment Assistance requires that a person be work authorized (and have been work authorized or PRUCOL during the base period).

- Other major benefits programs tend to be more flexible about requiring documentation immediately after a disaster – but may require applicants to declare that they have an eligible status – so applicants need to be careful. Visit https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/programs-available-to-immigrants-in-calif/.

- State Emergency Services California’s AB 2327 (among other things) requires that public employees provide assistance to survivors of disaster without eliciting any information or documentation not strictly necessary to determine eligibility

- NILC’s Disaster Assistance Resources: food, shelter, cash payments, loans, eligibility for disaster assistance, and other help for victims of major disasters.

- Funds and services on the ground compiled by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR). Links to funds available and organizations in the region to support: https://www.gcir.org/initiatives/natural-disaster-response.

- Replacing vital records and other disaster assistance and recovery links from LawHelp: Information on how to replace identification, birth, marriage and death certificates, etc. Guide to insurance legal rights, claim guidance and more. For more information, visit http://www.lawhelpca.org/subtopics/disaster-assistance-and-recovery.

- Evacuation centers/shelters: Several local officials have made public statements to make clear that these shelters are open to everyone regardless of immigration status. The list includes many churches and schools that are hopefully seen as trusted spaces. For more information, including a list of evacuation centers, visit http://www.caloes.ca.gov/ICESite/Pages/October-2017-Northern-California-Fires.aspx.

- Campsite evacuation spaces: Although these campsites in Sonoma and Mendocino counties are not official evacuation sites, they will be open to meet the temporary immediate needs of displaced residents. They only accommodate those who are self-contained. Those who need food, bedding and personal services should contact a designated evacuation center. For more information, visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=29743.

- Resources regarding benefits an undocumented person may be eligible for and whether applying may be risky: https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/overview-immeligfedprograms/; https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/talking-to-immigrants-about-health-benefits-2017-03-22.pdf; http://www.ppic.org/publication/health-coverage-and-care-for-undocumented-immigrants/; http://www.e4fc.org/images/HEALTHCARE_RESOURCE_GUIDE_HOPE-FINAL_OCTOBER_28.PDF; https://www.co.merced.ca.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/6354.

  • If you have a Wells Fargo mortgage, have been affected by the fires and can’t make payment this month, they are waiving late fees for 30 days, and you can call 888-818-9147 to for help on this matter. They may be able to postpone payment for you until January 2018.

Free child care

Health/Wellness

  • Counseling:

- NorCal EMDR Trauma Recovery Network is offering pro-bono EMDR Therapy to those affected by the disaster – from first responders to residents. Contact them at www.norcal-emdr-trn.weebly.com.

- Somatic Trauma Relief, Rachel Kaplan, MFT, has been offering free services to fire victims.

- Emotional well-being/crisis counseling: Local professionals have provided some helpful advice for individuals and basic communication tactics. See tips here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OzQa-nsaJE4C-axx6wqLGy8eQC5er5Y9aqYd0_hxX9A/.

- Social Advocates for Youth (SAY), 2447 Summerfield Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-544-3299, ext. 237: Free 6-week counseling groups starting Nov. 13. 4-5:30 p.m. Mondays, ages 5-24.

- Matrix helps families who have children with special needs. The e-newsletter lists resources for the special needs community to help them to cope with disasters. See it here: http://mailchi.mp/matrixparents/emergency-resources-for-our-matrix-community?e=1eca6ac3e0.

- Visit http://www.rachelkaplanmft.net/; call 415-268-2721.

  • Showers:

- Scott Valley Swimming & Tennis Club, 50 Underhill Road, Mill Valley. Has been offering free warm showers – towels and toiletries provided.

- 24 Hour Fitness in Rohnert Park, 6345 Commerce Blvd.: Has been welcoming residents of the community to utilize their resources. They have hot showers, soap, and towels. Currently open 24/7.

- Aya Salon: Has been offering to wash and style hair for free for fire victims. Downtown Petaluma. 707-762-3100.

  • Medical:

- Petaluma Health Center, 1179 N McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, is open and accepting walk-ins.

- Teladoc is a telemedicine company that has been waiving all fees and offering free phone visits to anyone affected by the fires.

- Eye care: VSP Vision Care members who have lost or broken their eyewear due to the wildfires can call Member Services Support Line at 800-877-7195 to have their VSP benefits reinstated regardless of eligibility. Individuals without VSP coverage can contact their local American Red Cross, or call 800-Red-cross 800-733-2767 and request a VSP Global Eyes of Hope gift certificate. They can use this to obtain necessary eyewear.

  • Health information for Napa residents can be found here.

Free goods

  • Care Bags with gently used clothing, shoes, toys, books, toiletries and more. Tailored to you/your family’s sizes and needs. Visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1WzHeTZecDN49FL6MdQmCGMBb2alnf8F_gI6HtBxLDbU/edit.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County ReStore: For the next several weeks displaced families will be able to shop at the Habitat ReStore for free. 1201 Piner Road, #500, Santa Rosa.
  • Crossing the Jordan fire victim vouchers are being distributed to evacuation centers. Vouchers give you access to our donated items. There is no expiration date on these vouchers so they can use them after people who lost their homes get settled, or they can use them now. Can also pick up vouchers at 2 W. Third St, Santa Rosa.

Free food

Free Wi-Fi/computers

  • Copperfield’s Books, Petaluma, is offering free Wi-Fi, allows dogs, water, stickers and crayons for children.
  • Roaring Donkey has had laptops set up and Wi-Fi and chargers for people, as needed.

Shelters taking small animals

  • Petaluma Animal Shelter, 840 Hopper St. Come between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. for food, supplies, shelter. Snuggle Shuttle @ Petaluma Community Center at Luchessi Park. (707-778-7387). Offering pet food, water, boarding, and lost and found pet information.
  • Unleashed Dog Training for boarding and if you need a place to hang. Call 707-763-9882.
  • Marin Humane Society, 171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato. Call 415-883-4621.
  • Sonoma Humane Society, 5345 Highway 12 West, Santa Rosa. Offering no-cost veterinary treatment for burn victims. Owned or stray animals affected by the fires can come to Sonoma Humane for basic treatment. Available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Also has been offering pet supplies.
  • Napa County Animal Shelter, 942 Hartle Court, Napa, will shelter dogs, cats, rabbits and other household animals.
  • Mendocino County Animal Shelter, 298 Plant Road, Ukiah
  • Second Chance Rescue, 945 22nd Ave. in Oakland
  • House Rabbit Society: Contact them directly at 510-970-7575 for free boarding and supplies. Located in Richmond, but they have people in the area to help transport.

Places taking in Horses/Livestock

  • Flat Broke Animal Rescue, P.O. Box 751418, Petaluma. Flat Broke Farm, a nonprofit farm in Cotati, is helping displaced farm and domestic animals due to the fires. Visit http://www.flatbrokefarm.net/.
  • Dickson Ranch in West Marin can take horses, goats, chickens, etc. Call 415-488-0454.
  • Strong’s Second Chance Ranch in Petaluma – message on Facebook.
  • Sonoma County Fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Road
  • Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma
  • Vallejo Fairgrounds, Vallejo County Fairgrounds, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo
  • South Bay Horse Ranch, 1290 Masten Ave., Gilroy
  • Napa County Fairgrounds
  • Solano County Fairgrounds, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo
  • SPCA Solano County, 2200 Peabody Road, Vacaville

Here’s a guide for those who want to lend a helping hand in the fire zones and from afar:

Monetary donations needed (high priority)

  • Here’s a list of GoFundMe pages dedicated to California fire relief: www.gofundme.com/raise-funds/CAfirerelief
  • Donate to the Rotary District 5130 Fire Relief Fund: www.larca5130.org/
  • On Wednesday, Oct. 25, between 10:45 a.m. and 9 p.m., all Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in Sacramento will be donating 100 percent of fundraiser sales to the Napa Valley Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sonoma County to help victims and families impacted by the fires. Customers need to visit a participating Chipotle location and mention the North Bay wildfires to the cashier before payment.
  • Donate to United Way of the Wine Country.
  • Sonoma County Resilience Fund: Specifically addresses the mid- to long-term needs of the community. Visit the website here.
  • Disaster Fund for Mendocino County: Provide disaster relief and recovery services in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Visit www.communityfound.org/for-donors/donate-today/.
  • Napa Valley Community Foundation: Will distribute immediate response grants to a targeted list of local nonprofits that were preapproved to receive such grants following the 2014 earthquake. Grants will focus on organizations providing services such as medical care, counseling, temporary shelter and meals to the individuals and families affected by the fire. Visit www.napavalleycf.org/supporting-napa-county-fire-relief-efforts/.
  • Donate to the Napa Valley College Foundation’s Fire Relief fund here.
  • Redwood Credit Union has established a North Bay Relief Fund: https://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief
  • Fire Relief Fund via Race For Kids Gran Fondo: https://tinyurl.com/RFK-Fire-Evacuees-Supply-Fund. Local grass-roots fundraiser with a team of volunteers who are buying supplies for shelters as new needs arise.
  • Donate to Sonoma County Fire Relief, which was put together by a group of pilots from across California to deliver aid to fire victims: https://sonomacountyfirerelief.com/
  • Redwood Empire Food Bank, 3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa, (supplier for the evacuation centers) is in near-constant need of cash for food supplies: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=redempire&id=64. Click here to volunteer.
  • Support the Food Trucks providing free food by visiting www.gofundme.com/HelpOTGFeedNoCal.
  • Latino Community Foundation is raising funds that will specifically go toward three local Latino nonprofit organizations – North Bay Organizing Project in Santa Rosa, La Luz Center in Sonoma and UpValley Family Centers in Calistoga – that are working to support families, farmworker communities, and are coordinating regional resources for immediate and long-term needs. Donate here.
  • Support the Fundly page Sonoma County Wild Fire – Help 20 Families in Need, started by the nonprofit North Bay Indo-American Association. Donations go toward getting families most in need back on their feet after they have lost their homes.
  • Donate to the YouCaring Tubbs Fire Victims Fund.
  • Donate to the Bay Area Firefighters & Families Fund.
  • Wine Country Animal Lovers is in need of funds for pet surgeries/burn victims; donate here.
  • UndocuFund for Fire Relief in Sonoma County: Launched by a coalition of local immigration nonprofits, The UndocuFund for Fire Relief in Sonoma County is providing direct assistance to undocumented victims of the Northern California fires. One hundred percent of funds will go to victim support. The first $50,000 will be matched 1:1 by The California Wellness Foundation. Visit www.undocufund.org.
  • Heart of the Vine Relief Fund: BR Cohn winery has established a GoFundMe account that will be used to purchase gift cards for families affected by the fires. They will match the donations up to $25,000. Visit www.gofundme.com/vweheartofthevine.
  • Tipping Point Community: Emergency Relief Fund will support low-income communities affected by the devastating fires in the North Bay. One hundred percent of what you give will go where it is needed most. Visit https://tippingpoint.org/relief.
  • Petaluma Community Foundation: Raises money from the community and invests it back into the community for needed services. Visit www.petalumacf.org/donate.
  • Northern California Fire Fund: Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties’ community foundations have jointly mobilized this fund housed at Silicon Valley Community Foundation to respond to the devastating fires that have displaced thousands of residents and destroyed vast numbers of homes and businesses in their region. Visit www.siliconvalleycf.org/norcalfirefund.
  • United Way Joint Fund: This is a joint fund between the United Way of the Bay Area and United Way of the Wine Country. The goal of the United Ways’ Northern California Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund is to provide immediate and long-term recovery assistance to North Bay residents affected by the wildfires that have spread throughout the region. Visit https://uwba.org/wildfires-relief.
  • Marin Humane Society is in need of funds for animal burn victims to offset the cost of care. Donate here.
  • AUTISM School – Anova Education: This school was destroyed in the fire and is a crucial resource for our community. Donate here.
  • Petaluma Animal Center needs donations to cover costs of care. Click here and find the “donate button” in the top right corner.
  • Union for Reform Judaism’s buildings burned down. Help rebuild the camp by donating here.
  • Donate to The Salvation Army’s wildfire relief fund here.
  • Jameson Rescue Ranch is out in the community to assess needs. It is seeking donations.

Multiple areas (to offer help and find help)

Sonoma County (to offer help)

  • ¿Hablas español? Puedes ver una lista de necesidades aquí.
  • View a list of current and updating needs here.
  • Medical professionals: Contact the Red Cross at 707-577-7600 for volunteer placement and assessment. You can also visit http://www.signupgenius.com/tabs/13574d600a1c9e4c35-medical.
  • Community members: Just want to volunteer somewhere? Fill out a form here.
  • This website is a good resource for volunteers/those who want to help which also includes a list of Sonoma County resources, which is being updated.
  • Go to 2-1-1 Sonoma County’s website: http://211sonoma.org/.
  • Volunteers needed at the primary warehouse (address provided via text after sign-up); sign up here.
  • Volunteer at Petaluma People Services Center by signing up here.
  • Volunteer at the Wildlife Rescue of Sonoma County by signing up here.
  • Volunteer at Forget Me Not Farms by signing up here.
  • Volunteer at Petaluma Bounty; get info here.
  • Volunteer at the LDS Church, 8100 Valentine Ave., Sebastopol; sign up here.
  • Sign up to volunteer at Epicenter, 3215 Coffey Lane, by clicking here.
  • Volunteer with Aaron Jonas Catering (serving 10,000 meals a day): Volunteers must hold a food handlers certificate; get one here. Just show up at John Ash Vintners Inn, 4330 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa at 8 a.m. Please park all the way left by the Event Center; do not park forward or right and roam the property. Bring your knives and kitchen towels. (NOTE: You may be turned away if enough volunteers are already in place.).
  • Volunteer with The Skylane Project: They’re looking for qualified personnel who have experience working with individuals with exceptionalities; however, we have some opportunities for those who don’t (massage therapists, marriage family therapists, etc.). Fill out the volunteer form here.
  • NOTE (lower priority as few donations are needed now): Large donations – and small – can be taken to 5400 Redwood Highway as many places are inundated. Donation hours: 10-4 p.m. over the weekend. Top priorities: over the counter medication for children and adults, new socks, new undergarments, camping stoves, pots, pans, kitchen utensils.
  • Petaluma People Services Center: SHARE Sonoma County has created temporary home sharing for those who have lost their housing due to the recent fires. They currently have over 40 home providers offering housing. Anyone needing housing due to the fire or offering housing should contact SHAREFire@petalumapeople.org.
  • There is a community foster Facebook network for pets: Community Foster for NorCal Fire Animals.

Marin County (to offer help)

Sacramento-area needs/options for donating

  • Here’s a list of options from the city of Sacramento.
  • On Wednesday, Oct. 25, between 10:45 a.m. and 9 p.m., all Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in Sacramento will be donating 100 percent of fundraiser sales to the Napa Valley Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sonoma County to help victims and families impacted by the fires. Customers need to visit a participating Chipotle location and mention the North Bay wildfires to the cashier before payment.

Other help

  • Animal shelters and rescues need help with fostering animals displaced by the fires and are seeking donations:

– The Milo Foundation shelter, 220 S. Garrard Blvd., Point Richmond, has taken in pets. If you can foster, visit the shelter, visit the website.

– Humane Society of Silicon Valley also took in animals in need from Petaluma. Here’s their list of what you can do to help: http://sacb.ee/bnN2.

– The SPCA of Solano County, 2200 Peabody Road, Vacaville, is offering assistance to pet owners and maintaining a pet pantry for those in need. It is open from 2-5 p.m. Wednesdays and 12-5 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays.

– Hopalong & Second Chance is in need of funds for displaced animals and fostering programs. Donate here. If you can foster, go to this link.

– Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, 2200 Seventh Ave., Santa Cruz, www.scanimalshelter.org, is accepting pets from displaced families and animal shelters affected by the disaster. The shelter needs adopters.

– Check fire-area shelters and rescues to see if they are in need of resources, adopters and fostering.

Advice from former fire victims

(1) Contact your insurance companies. Most will cover hotel stays, apart from the usual coverage.

(2) Call your credit card companies and have the last 3-6 months of your purchases reimbursed back (get a police report that testifies you are a fire victim).

(3) If you are renting and are a minor, your parents’ home insurance may cover your belongings.

(4) Call your chain retail stores and see what they can offer to fire victims (GAP gave away free clothes to fire victims up to $500 per person during the Oakland fires).

(5) Needing mail? Wait until the fire is over. Post offices in the Santa Rosa McBride area are being evacuated.

Kalin Kipling: 916-321-1634; @Kalin_Kipling