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Wildfires and Hurricane Sally: How to Help

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As wildfires continue to blaze through Oregon, California and Washington State, thousands of people have been displaced, millions of acres have been burned and state leaders are struggling to help survivors who have lost their homes and loved ones.

At the same time, Hurricane Sally, which made landfall in Alabama on Wednesday morning, brought torrential rain and flooding to the Gulf Coast, less than a month after Hurricane Laura left a trail of devastation across the region.

Here are resources for helping those affected by the fires and the storm, with an emphasis on local nonprofit charities.

After disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, there is often an increase in fraudulent activity. If you suspect an organization or person may be committing fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

Make sure to research any organization before donating to be sure its goals and practices align with your values and beliefs. And you might want to search the Internal Revenue Service’s database to check that it is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.

Sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, which rate nonprofits based on their effectiveness and financial condition, can also help. For example, those interested in giving to nonprofit organizations focused on climate change, which is linked to the intensity and frequency of natural disasters, may want to consult Charity Navigator’s list of organizations chosen by environmental experts.

The California Fire Foundation has several relief funds to support communities affected by the fires. Through its Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency program, it provides short-term relief to victims by distributing $250 gift cards that can be used to purchase basic necessities such as food, clothing, medicine or temporary housing. The organization also supports firefighters and their families through its California Firefighters Benevolent Fund.

Founded in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Meals of Gratitude was originally delivering meals to frontline health care workers. It has now expanded its services to provide meals to firefighters, evacuees and volunteers helping with relief efforts.

The Diocese of Sacramento is collecting money for community organizations that are supporting victims of the nearby August Complex Fire, which has burned more than 750,000 acres northwest of Sacramento. You may donate by mail, phone or its website.

Corazón Healdsburg, named after the city of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, supports people displaced by the fires by providing gas cards, food, camping supplies, shelter or masks. The organization also provides information to families in the area about evacuation orders and how to stay safe. It is collecting donations through its Unity and Community Fund, established after the Kincade Fire of 2019.

The Latino Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund is for Latino-led organizations that are supporting families affected by the fires across the state.

Caring Choices, located in Chico, Calif., is accepting donations of diapers, wipes, pillows and shelf-stable food items. You may also register to volunteer on the organization’s site. And the Los Angeles Fire Department is asking for donations to buy gear and equipment for its firefighters.

ImageHundreds of homes in Phoenix, Ore., have been lost to the wildfires.
Credit…David Ryder/Getty Images

Medford Neighborhood Church, near Phoenix, Ore., a city devastated by the Almeda Fire, is raising funds to help those who have been displaced. Donations can be made through the mail or online.

Migrant farm workers in Jackson County, in southwestern Oregon, were among some of those most affected by the fires. Unete, an advocacy organization for immigrants, is collecting donations and will distribute the money directly to families to help with basic needs like food, gas, housing costs or other essentials.

Rogue Retreat, which provides temporary housing to homeless people, is raising funds to support the expansion of its facilities. The organization is also giving away clothing to people forced to leave their homes. You may donate items by visiting its thrift shop in Medford, Ore.

Dedicated websites like Rogue Valley Recovers, which was set up by the Jackson County United Way, offer a consolidated and frequently updated list of resources for donating items or volunteering in relief efforts.

There are also food banks working in the region, like the Ashland Emergency Food Bank or Access Food Bank. In addition to food, Access is also providing sleeping bags, medical equipment and toiletries to local evacuation centers.

To support long-term recovery efforts, the Oregon Community Foundation has created the 2020 Community Rebuilding Fund.

Project Beauty Share is collecting and distributing hygiene products such as shampoo and conditioner, toothbrushes, body soap, deodorant and razors for those affected by the nearby Cold Spring and Pearl Hill Fires in Omak, Wash. Items can either be dropped off at the organization’s warehouse or purchased through its Amazon wish list.

If you are in the region and would like to help directly, the Washington State Fire Fighters’ Association is seeking volunteers.

The fund-raising site GoFundMe is also a hub for supporting people who lost their homes in Washington State, and has established its own Wildfire Relief Fund.

In Florida, the state’s westernmost county, Escambia, has suffered a historic flood event from Hurricane Sally.

Many regional organizations have recently worked on relief efforts for Hurricane Laura, which last month was one of the strongest storms on record to hit the United States, devastating parts of the Louisiana and Texas coasts. You can find some of those organizations here.

The Salvation Army, which served more than 275,000 meals after Hurricane Laura, has turned to relief efforts for Hurricane Sally. Donations can be any amount, but the organization says that a $10 donation feeds one person for a day, and that a $500 donation keeps a mobile feeding unit operational.

The American Red Cross is on the ground in all three states providing shelter, food and other necessities to those impacted by the fire. It is asking for money and blood donations, as well as volunteers to help in relief efforts.

The local United Way chapters for Jackson County, Ore., Whitman County in Washington and throughout the Bay Area are providing housing and cash assistance to victims of the fires. These organizations are also raising money for long-term recovery in the affected communities.

If you are a veteran interested in volunteering your time, you may do so through Team Rubicon, which organizes trained veterans and sends them to disaster sites.

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