I'm sure you've all heard what's going on in Northern California with wildfires blazing out of control for nearly a week now, leaving a trail of death and destruction. The stories coming out of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino are truly heartbreaking. As of now, 36 people are confirmed dead with hundreds more missing. “I don't think anyone can comprehend the amount of damage,” Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano told the Los Angeles Times. One couple hid in their basement and were asphyxiated as fire consumed all the oxygen, burning the house above them. Others jumped into swimming pools for safety but didn't make it out alive due to smoke inhalation. Thousands of people ran out of their homes watching all of their possessions go up in flames as they fled. There are now 90,000 people displaced, with evacuations continuing and people uncertain of what they will find, besides ashes, when they return.
Hundreds of businesses were affected as well. Chris Kajani, winemaker at Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa said that they were very lucky that the winery and all of the employees are safe but that they are devastated for those who lost so much. She told me that "this is a strong community and we will rebuild together". Other wineries weren't so lucky with many of them suffering major damage and others, like the historic White Rock Vineyards, established in 1870, completely burnt to the ground. (See The Mercury News for an updated list of wineries damaged or destroyed).
What You Can Do To Help:
One thing you can do is drink the wines from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino!
Other suggestions below from Joe Roberts of 1winedude.com who has put together this list of reputable organizations accepting monetary donations for the three hardest hit areas:
- Sonoma County Resilience Fund: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1431417
- Napa Valley Community Foundation: http://napavalleycf.org/fire-donation-page/
- Community Foundation of Mendocino County: http://www.communityfound.org/for-donors/donate-today/community-funds/disaster-fund-for-mendocino-county/
- Additionally, there is a GoFundMe effort kicked off by Charles Communications’ Kimberly Noelle Charles
More recommendations from the website Refinery29:
- You can find several campaigns aimed at helping with relief efforts on GoFundMe.
- If you're an Airbnb host based in California, you can offer housing for free for evacuees and relief workers through October 30.
- Food pantries in Napa County, Yuba County, and Sonoma County are currently accepting donations.
- The American Red Cross is seeking volunteers to help evacuees.
- You can donate to the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.
- The Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is accepting donations.
- The Tubbs Fire Safety Check-In Facebook page allows you to find volunteering information, places to donate, and raise money for victims in the area.
- The Napa Community Animal Response Team is calling for volunteers to help with rescued animals in various shelters.
- The Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership is seeking volunteers to assist fire victims and collecting donations for relief efforts in the area.
- You can donate to the Wine Country Animal Lovers, a group that is offering help to animals in need.