A list of people, places and things to help San Diego live through and recover from the wildfires.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fallbrook aid group in action

Posted @ 6:47 PM

A Fallbrook group has worked hard this week getting aid to people who lost everything in last week's fires.

North County Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a grass-roots group based in Fallbrook that serves residents of Fallbrook, Rainbow and Bonsall.

Established in 2005, the group coordinates its work with the North County Fire Department, said Everett Herb, a volunteer with the group.

Yesterday, CERT had a tent set up at Fallbrook's Local Assistance Center at 341 Heald Lane - ground zero for aid for fire victims.

CERT was mobilized initially to provide aid for pets and other animals impacted by the fire, but so many people have donated items for people that volunteers have been busy assembling and delivering care packages, said Everett Herb, a 50-year-old volunteer.

Volunteers with the group have delivered numerous items to fire victims throughout Fallbrook but also to Ramona and Pauma Valley, said Christina Martinez, a 32-year-old volunteer.

One CERT volunteer brought dog food, water and care packages in his pick-up truck to Palomar Mountain.

The group has supplied fire victims with pet food, kitty litter, kennels, blankets, pet beds, collars and leashes, flashlights, batteries, diapers, dust masks, plastic buckets, gloves and many more items.

CERT is still accepting donations. Call James Beebe at 760-728-2010 or contact him at jbeebe@ncfire.org.

- Bruce Lieberman, staff writer

Members of California Coast Credit Union eligible for aid...

Posted @ 1:15 PM

Any current California Coast Credit Union member, whose primary residence was destroyed by the wildfires, is elegible to receive a $1,000 donation per family or household from the credit union.
Membership status must date back to Oct. 21 and proof of loss must be shown by the household's insurance agency, FEMA, or a similar agency. All requests must be received by Nov. 30.
For more information, call the credit union's Emergency Financial Services Line at (858) 636-3075 or visit www.calcoastcu.org.


ABA sets up toll-free legal hot line

Posted @ 9:48 AM

A toll-free legal hotline is now available for victims of the recent wildfires in Southern California. The line was created by the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the State Bar of California and Foley & Lardner LLP.

Fire victims who are unable to afford a lawyer may call the hotline at (866) 636-9041 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT; messages may be left after this time. Callers should identify that they are seeking fire-related legal assistance.

The kind of legal help available includes:
· Assistance in securing FEMA and other governmental benefits available to disaster victims

· Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.)

· Counseling on landlord/tenant problems

· Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures

· Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in a major disaster

Through a 1978 agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the ABA YLD has been called upon to provide legal assistance to victims of natural disasters. When the president declares a "major disaster," the ABA YLD mobilizes lawyers to coordinate volunteer activities through hotlines or by staffing disaster recovery centers in the hardest-hit counties.

In addition to the hotline, the ABA and the State Bar of California have created comprehensive Web sites listing disaster resources: www.abanet.org/disaster and www.calbar.ca.gov .

Pet owners' grieving circle online

Posted @ 8:33 AM

There is a special place owners who lost pets to the wildfires can go to for comfort and grief counseling. It was originally set up by a very special earth angel, Ginny Brancato, when she lost her own pet many years ago and found nowhere to turn. It is a virtual pet cemetery where you can set up little "gravesites" for the furbabies you lost and other sections to help, including a Monday Night Candlelighting Ceremony where grievers can sign in and chat with others:


C. Lafferty

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Free flu shots for wildfire victims

Posted @ 3:46 PM

The county's Health and Human Services Agency is now offering free flu vaccine at three County Local Assistance Centers and three American Red Cross Family Assistance Centers to those affected by the wildfires.

The Agency urges people at higher risk for complications from influenza, as well as those who want to reduce their chance of getting influenza, to get the seasonal influenza vaccine.

The influenza vaccine, Afluria, is being donated by its manufacturer, CSL Biotherapies and the distributor, Global Pharmaceutical Sourcing. The donation was secured by Passport Health, a private travel health care provider; they have also donated vaccine and medical supplies.

For more information about the county's assistance centers -- including locations, hours of operation and types of assistance available -- visit www.sdcountyemergency.com and click on "Firestorm Recovery Information," or call the 211 San Diego information service.

Bank to donate $1 million to relief effort

Posted @ 3:38 PM

Pacific Western Bank will donate $1 million for its newly established relief fund to help recovery efforts following the wildfires that have ravaged the region, officials announced Wednesday.

The gift will infuse the bank's new Pacific Western Bank Fund at The San Diego Foundation and will be used for community improvement projects in the region for years to come.

The donation includes $100,000 that has been designated to aid families of firefighters and police officers.

Pacific Western is the largest independent bank headquartered in San Diego and is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Community Bancorp. It is the largest donation in the history of both banks.

As the banks saw employees, customers and their families suffer from the fires, officials wanted to help the community recover from the disaster. Bank representatives sought advice from former Gov. Pete Wilson on how to best help the region following the fires.

The fund will be administered by The San Diego Foundation and guided by a corporate committee.

Five major wildfires burned in San Diego County, destroying nearly 1,600 homes and more than 360,000 acres. Seven people were killed by the fire storm and seven others died from fire-related incidents.

-- By Maureen Magee

Ford gives trucks to city fire department

Posted @ 3:17 PM

The Ford Motor Company donated 10 Ford trucks and sport utility vehicles to the San Diego City Fire/Rescue Department Thursday.

The gift followed a request from fire department officials who said the department had an urgent need for heavy duty work trucks and SUVs. Ford dealers in the county located two specially equipped vehicles and gave them to the San Diego City Fire Department for immediate use.

The Ford Motor Company Fund has also contributed $100,000 to the San Diego Chapter of the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

Ford Motor Credit has announced it's allowing customers hit by the wildfires to put off paying one or two monthly payments, resuming their regular payment schedules when their situations improve.
Customers can call may call (800) 723-4016 to register for the Ford Motor Credit Disaster Relief Program.

- Tom Mallory, U-T Breaking News Team

Even squares can make a difference -- donate one

Posted @ 3:16 PM

My name is Georgeanne Smith and I live in San Diego and survived the Witch Creek Fire.

Our whole county is being ravaged by wildfires which are burning thousands of acres and have already caused millions of dollars of damage, and many people have lost their homes. These fires started on Sunday, Oct. 21 and are are now just reaching containment.

Over 1,588 families lost their homes due to these fire storms and I knew, after being a victim of the Cedar Fire in 2003, that I could not just wait and rely on "someone else" to take care of my neighbors that were displaced.

As a member of the of the knitting and crocheting community here in San Diego (I manage a group of over 100 fiber crafters in Mira Mesa, I placed a plea for help in organizing an effort to make blankets for the families who lost their homes in the fires.

I wanted to help them build their homes again and help them feel connected to the community by giving them something made with love. I was asking for donations of 8" acrylic knit or crocheted squares that we can sew together. (No cash please!).

I never expected the outpouring of support and generosity I have received. I have begun to receive not only these squares from the local San Diego community, but Arizona, Michigan, New York, the United Kingdom and Germany.

My email is flooded daily with support from people asking how can they help us in San Diego.

This is what knitters and crocheters do - we make things and give back to the community we are a part of.

I would like your assistance in spreading the word. If you are willing, I would really appreciate it if you could put a post on your website about our efforts and let people know where they can donate squares, or let any other friends know who can reach a lot of knitters and crocheters.

You can direct them to email sandiegowildfireblankets@gmail.com for more information and for the addresses where they can send the finished squares.

You can read the whole story and follow our progress on our blog www.sandiegowildfireblankets.blogspot.com.

And If you are interested in donating a square or two yourself, that would be awesome as well.

Thanks so much in advance for your help.

GeorgeAnne Smith

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Palomar College seeks donations

Posted @ 5:55 PM

The Palomar College Foundation is accepting monetary donations that will be given to members of the community college affected by the wildfires.
Three $500 grants have been awarded to students to spend on books, clothes and other living expenses and three additional grants have been approved, said Rich Talmo, cq executive director of the foundation. Students could be eligible for more than one grant, he said.
Talmo said the foundation would like to raise about $40,000, and is asking businesses to donate gift cards that will be used to replace household goods.
Students addresses' will verified against a list of homes destroyed or damaged by the fires, Talmo said. About a dozen employees were affected by the fires but the number of students is unknown at this point, he said.
Checks should be made out to the foundation's Student, Faculty & Staff Fire Relief Fund 2007, and mailed in care of the foundation, A-4B, 1140 W. Mission Road, San Marcos, CA. 92069 or dropped off on campus.
For more information, call (760) 744-1150, ext. 2732.

- Linda Lou

Free legal advice for wildfire victims

Posted @ 2:43 PM

Attorneys throughout San Diego County will provide free legal services for the thousands of families whose lives have been affected by the recent wildfires.

Anyone affected by the wildfires may access legal assistance by dialing the toll-free FEMA- ABA/YLD disaster hotline at 1-866-636-9041. Additional legal resources for wildfire victims, including an application for assistance, can be found at the San Diego County Bar Association’s website www.sdcba.org/disasterrelief.

Legal issues faced by the fire victims will run the gamut from insurance coverage to landlord-tenant concerns to employment questions. The assistance program will connect people to experienced lawyers for advice. The lawyer assigned will not charge the client for his or her legal services, which will be available in both English and Spanish.

For attorneys interested in volunteering, visit www.sdcba.org/volunteer. To contribute to the San Diego County Bar Foundation’s Disaster Recovery and AID fund, visit: http://www.sdcba.org/SDCBF_recovery_aid.pdf .

East County cities help evacuees, firefighters

Posted @ 12:17 PM

East County cities provided nearly 20,000 meals to fire evacuees, firefighters and law enforcement personnel last week.

About 500 volunteers and donors came together Oct. 22, first at the La Mesa Community Center and later at the El Cajon Elks Lodge, to make and deliver bag lunches and hot meals to various evacuation centers around East County and beyond.

The effort was organized by the cities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove as well as the Kiwanis Club of La Mesa.

La Mesa city officials say they served 19,525 meals and distributed up to 37,000 pieces of fruits and 4 tons of supplies, such as cots, blankets, diapers and toiletries.

- Liz Neely, staff writer

Cal Fire seeks blood donations for burn victims

Posted @ 9:09 AM

Cal Fire is asking for blood donations to help treat burn victims from the firestorm, most of them from the first couple of days from the Harris fire.

The victims include four firefighters in Potrero overrun by flames while trying to rescue Thomas Varshok, who was killed while trying to save his home. His 15-year-old son also was seriously burned.

Two of the firefighters received skin grafts and are reported to be up and around and doing well. The other two remain in medically-induced comas and their conditions are unchanged.

- Greg Gross, Breaking News Team

Monday, October 29, 2007

National Conflict Resolution Center offers mediation services to fire victims

Posted @ 3:42 PM

In the aftermath of the southern California wildfires, many victims may find themselves in disputes along their paths to recovery.

The National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) is a full service alternative dispute resolution provider qualified to resolve these challenges and is offering to do so at a low- or no-cost fee for fire victims.

Through mediation at NCRC, victims will get their questions answered in an environment where they can find an agreeable solution. NCRC can help fire victims avoid the hassles of court time and costs, allowing them to move forward with their lives.

Disputes are common in the wake and recovery of such devastating events. Examples include:
• Disputes over property lines
• Fire hydrant and water supply issues
• Code compliance issues
• Problems with the permitting process
• Disputes with building contractors
• Disputes over debris removal
• Lingering insurance issues

NCRC operates as a private, non-profit corporation. For more information or to schedule a mediation call NCRC at (619) 238-2400. Information is also available at http://www.ncrconline.com.

PostalAnnex+ offering free rental and storage boxes

Posted @ 2:36 PM

PostalAnnex+ stores around the county are offering both six months of free private mailbox rental and up to five corrugated boxes to any family who lost their home in this week’s fires.

People needing the free mailbox should come into the PostalAnnex+ at 970 W. Valley Parkway in Escondido or any of the others listed at www.postalannex.com/freemailbox. No purchase is necessary, and the free mailboxes are on a space-available basis for up to six months.

Photo ID will be required along with a second form of identification in order
to complete the application required by the USPS. In addition, these same people can
choose from any size box in stock up to 5 boxes per household at no charge.

Sycuan Tribe Donates $500,000 to The San Diego Foundation "After-the-Fires Fund 2007"

Posted @ 1:20 PM

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has donated $500,000 to The San Diego Foundation After-the-Fires Fund 2007 to help San Diegans rebuild after the disastrous fires that struck San Diego County this week. The Tribe will also contribute to programs to assist other local Indian tribes in San Diego County that were impacted by the fires.

The fund was established on Sunday, October 21st and will be used for making emergency grants to first responders and other nonprofit service organizations engaged in disaster response, recovery and rebuilding. The first stage of the effort will be immediate response and recovery activities, primarily the provision of food, shelter, housing and healthcare needs. The second stage will provide grants to help rebuild the lives of fire victims, as well as restore the communities affected by the fires.

Sycuan will also be directing significant support to other Tribal communities in the region. Several local tribes lost homes and community facilities to the fires and will need support in their rebuilding efforts.

To learn more about the After-the-Fires Fund visit www.sdfoundation.org. For more information about Sycuan visit www.sycuan.org.

Food for 2-1-1

Posted @ 1:00 PM

Although the worst of the wild fires have subsided, volunteers are still staffing the 2-1-1 San Diego phone line that provides information on emergencies and disasters around the county.
2-1-1 San Diego is looking for donations of lunches or dinners to feed 100 volunteers taking calls for the non-profit organization through Nov. 9. The volunteers at their offices near Montgomery Field work 24 hours a day, providing information on community, health and disaster services. All donations are tax-deductible.
For more information on how to help, call Lauren Bullock at (619) 980-1906 or email her at lbullock@211sandiego.org
-- Maria C. Hunt

County Fire Recovery Hotline

Posted @ 12:12 PM

San Diego County, (866) 402-6044; press 2
Removing fire debris: (877) 663-0391
Erosion control (including sandbags): (888) 846-0800
Status of building permits or damage assessment: (858) 694-3876
Truck, trailer or other licensed vehicle removal:
North County (including Julian, Warner Springs, Santa Ysabel, Ranchita, Borrego Springs): (760) 940-2893
East and South County (including Ramona): (619) 441-4264
Wells/septic systems: (619) 441-4030

-- D. Baker

First responders not in need of donations

Posted @ 11:13 AM

Cal Fire informs us that while they are very grateful for the response from civilians wishing to donate supplies, all their needs are filled from within the Cal Fire system as part of their logistics.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant thanks everyone for their support but encourages donations of supplies be made to area evacuation shelters and other organizations.

Anne Maclachlan

Cox adds fire assistance team

Posted @ 10:53 AM

To better assist our customers who have been displaced by the wildfires, Cox Communications has established a special Fire Victims Assistance Team to help those customers with special service needs.

In addition, Cox Communications is providing those customers with free communications features for short-term and long-term solutions.

Cox Digital Telephone customers
· Choice of voicemail or call forwarding service free of charge for 30 days;
· Voicemail or call forwarding services (up to 18 months);
· Extended referral message (up to 6 months).

Cox High Speed Internet customers:
· Maintain email address;
· Maintain log-in for web mail access (up to 18 months).

All customers displaced by the wildfires:

If they need to disconnect service at their current address, we will waive reconnection fees for their new service address.

Customers displaced by the fire can receive the following services by calling 619-262-1122 or 760-599-6060 (North).

Volunteer. San Diego - Fire Related Volunteer Oppurtunities

Posted @ 8:58 AM

There are fire-related volunteer opportunities available, for those 18 and older.
Current opportunities available include:
* Sandbagging (listed as erosion control on the calendar)
* 211 needs phone bank operators, especially Spanish speaking volunteers
* Loading water and providing traffic control at a senior center
* Distributing supplies
* Helping with handing out food and receiving donations.
To register, visit www.volunteersandiego.org

-- S. Carter