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Wildfire Recovery Resources

Get the latest information on the fire conditions and assistance in our region

2020 has been an exceptional year for disasters throughout the US, but in particular in California. From the global pandemic to racial inequities, we are now dealing with a pervasive and potentially catastrophic situation during the wildfire season.

The CZU Lightning Complex, River, Carmel and Dolan fires have already devastated the Monterey Bay region area – and we still have several dry months ahead of us. Below are some tools to help you monitor conditions in your area as well as tap into helpful resources for your home or business.

Resources

MBEP members’ fire response and recovery

Community Foundations' Fire Relief Funds Support Neighbors Helping Neighbors

In the aftermath of our region’s disastrous fires, the immediate demands of shelter, food, cash, and other basic needs are urgent, while the recovery and rebuilding process for individuals and communities impacted will also include longer-term economic, health, and social supports.

MBEP member organizations Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and Community Foundation for Monterey County established fire response funds to support the efforts of nonprofits working to address those complex needs. Both organizations are helping community members direct resources to where they can have significant impacts.

In Santa Cruz County, grants are helping local organizations in supplying N95 masks to farmworkers due to poor air quality, supporting the coordination of shelter workers, purchasing shelf-stable foods for fire evacuees, and supporting nonprofits that help fire victims with services ranging from shelter, long-term housing, economic and rental assistance, legal services, education, healthcare, and more. Help Santa Cruz County recover and rebuild from the CZU August Lightning Complex fires through the Community Foundation Santa Cruz Fire Response Fund.

The Community Foundation for Monterey County created the Monterey County Fire Relief Fund to assist communities affected by the River, Carmel and Dolan fires as well as future fires that may occur. Donations to the fund will support both immediate relief and recovery efforts.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Monterey, Community Association of Big Sur, Carmel Valley Kiwanis Foundation and the Salvation Army-Monterey Peninsula Corps are among the organizations that have received grants to provide direct financial support for evacuees in the form of food, housing and immediate needs.
Two other funds have been established to respond to specific fires:

  • Carmel Fire (Carmel Valley): Community Fund for Carmel Valley will deploy funds to the Cachagua and Carmel Valley-impacted areas.
  • Dolan Fire (Big Sur): The Big Sur Disaster Relief Fund, part of the Weston Call Fund for Big Sur, was created for the purpose of disaster relief specifically for the Big Sur area.

 

UC Santa Cruz: Strength in Preparedness

The CZU Lightning Complex caused MBEP member University of California, Santa Cruz officials to quickly evacuate more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff members because of the fire’s rapid growth. The emergency order was mandated on Aug. 20.

The Seaside Company and UC Santa Cruz established an evacuation center for students and employees in the Cocoanut Grove at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, with others taken to the University Town Center in Santa Cruz or to local hotels, or moved to residence halls at San Jose State University. Additional evacuation centers to serve the community were opened at Santa Cruz County Fairground in Watsonville and Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

While firefighters managed to keep the fire away from campus and the City of Santa Cruz, the full impact of fire damage to the UC Santa Cruz community will take time to establish. But with a workforce of nearly 5,000 people— many living in or near impacted areas —  some have lost their homes and hundreds forced to evacuate, wrote Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer in a letter to the campus community. “It is clear that it will be immense and widespread.”

The campus established dedicated web pages to help those impacted by the fire and to offer help:

A regularly updated fire web page includes current information on the status of campus operations; information about resources; links to external fire information; as well as links to the “How to get help” page, which includes housing options, which is important, as roughly 77,000 people have been evacuated in Santa Cruz County as a result of this fire, and the “How to give help” page with details on the most effective ways to support the UCSC community. While there has been a massive outpouring of material support — and items still needed are listed on the page — the best way to directly help those impacted by the fire is through a donation to the 2020 UCSC Wildfire Relief Fund, the disaster-relief fund championed by the UC Santa Cruz Foundation and the Alumni Association.
Photo courtesy of UC Santa Cruz.

Goodwill Central Coast Stores to Match 'Round-Up' Donations Through October for Wildfire Relief

MBEP member Goodwill Central Coast will help out wildfire victims by donating all funds from its Round-Up Program in September and October to those who lost their homes and were forced to evacuate.

Goodwill will match donated round-up funds from stores in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties up to $2,000 per month through this program, which is a way for shoppers to either “round up” their purchase to the nearest dollar or donate a set amount ($1, $3 or $5). All of these options are displayed on the credit card terminal machines.

The round-up funds raised in September and October in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties will go to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and Community Foundation for Monterey County’s Fire Relief Fund to aid those affected by the River, Carmel, CZU Lightning Complex, and Dolan fires.

Cabrillo College Delays Start of Fall Term

MBEP member Cabrillo College, which had been scheduled to start its fall semester on Aug. 24 with most of its classes online, delayed the beginning of classes by one week and extended its fall term through Dec. 19.

“With this decision, we hope individuals and their families can focus on basic needs and evacuation plans,” wrote Cabrillo College President/Superintendent Matt Wetstein in a letter to the campus community. “This is a time that requires compassion, assistance and support for all those who have been impacted by the CZU fires.”

As the term was due to start, the campus turned its gymnasium and one of its parking lots into a Red Cross shelter for evacuees. More than 30 percent of the district’s population was under evacuation orders, including more than 100 faculty and staff, and countless students faced uncertain housing situations because of the fires and evacuation orders. More than 900 students have already responded to a survey sent out by the college checking on their status and needs. In response, Cabrillo has begun setting up an emergency grant aid fund.

On Aug. 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the campus and spent time with staff and evacuees.
Photo courtesy of Cabrillo College; news courtesy of Inside Higher Ed