Online resources offer help to California wildfire victims

Wildfires have terrorized Californians over the past few weeks, and various private and public sector organizations have responded by offering a range of resources to help those who have been injured or displaced.

One resource comes from software company Socrata: a map available shelters and open houses of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The map has a search bar where the user can enter an address, at which point the map zooms in on that location, revealing nearby places of refuge.

The Socrata map is filled with private rooms, houses and apartments from Airbnb Open houses program.

There are many online disaster relief funds in California. The California Fire Foundation has its own Emergency Victim Assistance Program (SAVE)., which provides victims with timely and short-term money for essentials such as food, clothing and first aid. The money is placed on $250 SAVE gift cards, which are then distributed by frontline firefighters.

For the intermediate or long-term needs of fire victims, there is the California Community Foundation’s Fire Relief Fundthat can help with everything from home remodeling to breathing equipment. This program includes funding for both Northern and Southern California.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services created the so-called State Wildlife Recovery Resources Web page. This site connects users to a variety of programs and types of assistance, covering categories such as debris removal, financial resources, and incident data.

There is specialist help for people with special communication needs. The American Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication would like to contact you in this way side about any cases where a victim has lost augmentative and alternative communication equipment in a fire in California. The organization says it stands by to help in such cases.

The California Department of Human Services has a website guide which outlines disaster relief programs and services for immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

Location-specific resources are also available. One effort includes a Cooperation between the Cathedral of Our Lady, the San Francisco Department of Technology and local wireless internet provider Monkeybrains. Monkeybrains and the department worked hurriedly in late October to install a fiber optic connection and Wi-Fi hotspots at the St. Mary’s, which can accommodate about 200 displaced persons.

There is also a Sonoma Family Meal fund that accepts donations here. This program connects fire victims with high-quality meals prepared by a chef.

Victims of the Kincade fire can benefit from the Redwood Empire Food Banks emergency programwhich offers help to those who have lost food in the fire.

For victims in Los Angeles and Ventura County, the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles says individuals and families can turn to the pastor of the nearest church for shelter, food and other needs. Such information can be found at or by calling 213-637-7000. For more information on Southern California victim assistance efforts, please contact us here.

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.

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