How To Help The Wildfire Victims, Whether You're In The Area Or Further Away
Over the weekend and early into this week, wildfires burning throughout northern California left at least 11 people dead and tens of thousands evacuated from their homes. And this season's devastating fires haven't been limited to one state alone: unfortunately, fires have also continued to burn in Montana, Washington, and Oregon, leaving millions of acres of land scorched throughout the United States' West Coast. Watching footage of the wildfires burn can make anyone feel rather helpless — but fortunately, there are several ways to help the wildfire victims.
While California's wildfires are the ones currently on the public's radar thanks to the widespread damage they've caused in the last few days, states of emergency were declared in both Montana and Washington just weeks ago, and cities continue to grapple with the fallout from wildfires that raged on throughout the summer. According to NBC News, 2017 has been the most expensive firefighting year in history, with a record $2 billion spent on forest fires this season.
Between the more immediate help necessary for evacuees and the donations needed to help affected cities rebuild, there's plenty of need for assistance across the West Coast.
Donate To Organizations That Are Helping Rebuild
Donations are easily one of the best ways to help out quickly and effectively during a crisis, since the money goes directly towards existing relief efforts without any transportation or customs costs. A few organizations working on wildfire relief include:
- The American Red Cross is helping wildfire victims across the country. Donate now to help even more people in vulnerable areas. If you'd like to donate to specific states, you can donate to their local Montana fund, their Washington fund, or their northern California fund. To donate easily, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- To help those affected in Montana, consider donating to the Missoula United Way, which set up funds specifically for the Lolo Peak fires and Seeley Lake/Rice Ridge fires.
- To help those in Washington, consider donating to the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, which will be working with local agencies to help affected families get back on their feet after losing their homes and belongings.
- California donations can be sent to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of the wildfires.
- Donate to the SPCA or the Humane Society to help pets stranded by wildfires — whether you donate to specific branches in affected locations or to the organizations as a whole.
Help Out Locally If You're In The Area
If you're in one of the areas affected, you can help out on the ground, as well.
- Facebook has crisis centers open for areas affected by fires. Search for the area you're in and reach out to help those who have posted requests, or let people know what you can offer. Can you give someone a ride? Do you have a couch people can crash on? Food you can deliver? Anything helps.
- The Red Cross is seeking new volunteers to help manage the wildfire crises on the west coast. Get started by signing up as a volunteer ASAP.
- Sign up with Airbnb to safely volunteer to home someone who's been evacuated from their own neighborhood. So far, 35 people have signed up to help out — if you can, add your name to the list. (You don't have to be an existing Airbnb host.)
- Several organizations in California are looking for material donations of clothing, food, and other essentials. Look for a drop-off location near you and give them a call to see what's most urgently needed.
It's been a bad year for much of the west coast due to wildfires, but with a little help from everyone, the recovery can be a bit swifter. Even if you can't donate at the moment or if you can't help out locally, make sure you share with others who may be in a place to.
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