Responding to 2021 Wildfires
Episcopal Relief & Development Supports the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California in Response to Wildfires
September 9, 2021
Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California as it provides emergency assistance in response to the Caldor, Dixie, McFarland and Monument wildfires that have burned over 1.4 million acres in seven counties and led to widespread evacuations.
Severe drought and record-breaking heat across the state are contributing to the extremely active wildfire season. Nearly one-third of the population of California is affected by the hazardous air quality caused by the fires.
The Caldor Fire ignited on August 14, 2021, and quickly spread through El Dorado County, destroying property and closing roads. Nearly 25,000 people were initially evacuated from their homes. Some evacuation orders have been downgraded in recent days, allowing people to begin to return home, but the fire is not yet fully contained. The Dixie Fire began on July 13, 2021, and is the largest “single start” fire in California history, overshadowed only by the August Complex (multiple points of ignition) of 2020 which totaled 1,032,000 acres. The Dixie Fire has burned over 922,000 acres as of September 8. The Dixie Fire displaced many migrant farmworkers and rural farmers who may not have the resources to support an extended period away from the farms. The McFarland Fire has burned over 128,000 acres and at least 66 structures, including 24 residences, while the Monument Fire has burned over 189,000 acres since both fires ignited at the end of July.
The Diocese of Northern California, a long-term recovery partner of Episcopal Relief & Development, has organized a disaster response program to bring aid to farmworkers, regardless of documentation status, people who had already been experiencing homelessness prior to the wildfires and other evacuees. Due to the size and unpredictability of the fires, many evacuees are relocating entirely. The diocese is providing monetary support to cover food, fuel and other emergency supplies as they travel. Additionally, through its network of churches, the diocese is setting up hygiene stations with wash areas, dumpsters and portable toilets to assist evacuees. Diocesan staff are also coordinating with representatives from FEMA. All relief efforts are being carried out with physical distancing and other COVID-19 protocols in place.
“The Diocese of Northern California is experienced at responding to disasters, particularly wildfires,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director, US Disaster Program. “The staff had prepared in advance so they were able to quickly mobilize to help people affected by this year’s fires.”
Please pray for all the evacuees, firefighters, emergency responders and all who are impacted by the wildfires in California, and consider a donation to Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Fund to support continued response to this disaster.
For over 80 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.
Photo Courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California