Responding to California Wildfires


press-release-badge-1Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Southern California Wildfires

December 11, 2017

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to provide emergency support to help the most vulnerable impacted by the wildfires spreading across Southern California. This assistance includes gift cards and spiritual care for homeless and undocumented people in Ventura, Ojai and Santa Paula.

“One of the challenges in a situation like this is to figure out a response when new needs become apparent,” noted The Very Rev. Canon Michael Bamberger of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, a member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partners in Response team and the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for Los Angeles. “We used an asset-based approach and identified that there are active Laundry Love ministries in Ojai and Ventura. It was easy to see how the existing ministry could be amplified to meet the needs of a community to clean their clothes of the smoke residue. In the days ahead, when we become aware of more needs, we will do our best to address them.”

California has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country due, in part, to the lack of affordable housing and shelters with long waiting lists, forcing an increase in the number of people living in encampments and on the streets. 

In partnership with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ojai, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Santa Paula and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ventura, the Diocese of Los Angeles is providing gift cards to help people who are homeless and undocumented to replace belongings lost in the fires. All three churches have strong interfaith relationships in their communities. Laundry Love, a national program that assists people struggling financially to have the dignity of clean clothes, is working with St. Andrew’s and St. Paul's in Ojai to provide laundry services.

Canon Bamberger and diocesan leadership are in regular communication with clergy and congregational leaders through AlertMedia, an emergency notification platform, to assess and organize responses.

Driven by high, unpredictable winds and mountainous terrain, six fires continue to burn and have destroyed approximately 800 buildings and charred 230,000 acres. More than 5,700 firefighters are battling these swiftly moving fires for the second week. The Southern California wildfires erupted less than two months after thousands of acres and hundreds of buildings and homes were destroyed in wildfires in the northern part of the state.

“Our church partners have deeply engaged ministries,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Team. “As the fires continue, we will leverage the expertise of our congregations and diocesan disaster coordinators.”

Donations to the US Disaster Fund will help those affected by the devastating wildfires in California.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.

Photo Credit: LAFD Photo | Harry Garvin


Responding to Southern California Wildfiresweb-statement-badge-1

December 7, 2017

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles as it responds to fast moving wildfires that broke out in Southern California on Monday evening. The unpredictable fires have destroyed over 120,000 acres and more than 300 homes as they continue to burn.

“These fires are a dynamic situation and can change dramatically,” noted The Very Rev. Canon Michael Bamberger of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Serving as a volunteer firefighter for 22 years, including Battalion Chief of the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department, Canon Bamberger is a member of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Partners in Response team and is the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator for Los Angeles.

“We’re in the rescue and response stage at the moment but we are looking ahead to provide for immediate physical needs as well as emotional and spiritual care to those affected as we move into the relief and recovery phases,” continued Bamberger.

Immediately after receiving news of the fires, Canon Bamberger and diocesan staff began calling clergy in the impacted areas to check in and assess immediate needs. The US Disaster Team staff are in regular communication with Canon Bamberger and diocese staff, and the diocese recently signed up and will begin utilizing AlertMedia, an emergency notification platform, to assess and organize responses, later this week.

More than 3,500 firefighters continue to battle four major wildfires with Category 1 hurricane force wind gusts expected today, making the blazes almost impossible to extinguish. A state of emergency has been declared. These fires erupted less than two months after thousands of acres and hundreds of buildings and homes were destroyed in wildfires in the northern part of California.

To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s response to these devastating wildfires, make a donation to the US Disaster Fund and pray for those impacted by this disaster. 


October 12, 2017press-release-badge-1
 

Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Deadly Wildfires in Northern California

Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California to provide emergency support for those impacted by deadly wildfires in California. The assistance includes food and other critical supplies, housing and the storage of belongings.

“The diocese and church partners are coordinating their efforts during this challenging time. The fires have not been contained and last minute evacuations continue,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “We are in regular communication with the dioceses throughout California as they monitor the fires, assess damage and coordinate the sheltering and feeding of those affected.”

Eighteen different fires have forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed hundreds of buildings within the diocese. Over 20 wildfires are burning in Napa, Sonoma, Orange and Mendocino counties and other areas across California where a state of emergency has been declared. According to local authorities, at least 23 people have died, with over 250 reported missing.

Wildfires have burned over 190,000 acres, including 13 Napa Valley wineries which serve as the foundation of the local economy. Fires continue to be fueled by strong winds, dry brush and low humidity. Dangerous conditions persist with winds up to 50 miles per hour hampering firefighting efforts and with no rain in the current forecast. The air is thick with smoke and ash. Some areas have power and cell phone outages.

“I am very impressed by the wisdom among leaders in the Diocese of Northern California,” Mears said. “Margaret Dunning, the Diocesan Disaster Coordinator, and others have been working tirelessly for over six years to increase congregational preparedness and to network with neighboring dioceses and NGO partners. The diocese has responded successfully to several smaller events over the last few years. This large-scale emergency builds on that wisdom and experience.”

Please support Episcopal Relief & Development’s response to the wildfires in California by donating to the US Disaster Fund and pray for all those impacted.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.


October 11, 2017web-statement-badge-1

Responding to California Wildfires

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with impacted Episcopal dioceses throughout California as they assess damage and coordinate with local congregations to shelter and feed those affected by the wildfires. The US Disaster Team is in regular communication with the dioceses to organize response efforts.

More than a dozen wildfires are burning in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties as well as other areas across northern California. According to local authorities, at least 17 people have died, with over 200 reported missing.

“The fires are ongoing and assessments are limited due to safety concerns,” said Katie Mears, Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “We will be working with church partners to reach the most vulnerable in the days ahead.”

Please support Episcopal Relief & Development’s response to these devastating wildfires in California by donating to the US Disaster Fund and pray for all those impacted.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.

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