Thanks for all your good thoughts and well-wishes for the victims of the fires. My family is all safe and luckily, none of them had to evacuate. Now that the immense fires are starting to be contained, they, and all the other people in the Southern California area, are dealing with all the nasty chemicals in the air and cleaning up the ash that fell on them like snow.
This tragedy is similar to that of Hurricane Katrina, but happily with less lives lost. One Red Cross worker was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen floods and I went through Katrina and all that stuff, but this is probably ten times bigger than that.” I urge all of you to donate to the American Red Cross to help all those that lost their homes and possessions.
Beware of disaster relief scam attempts. It’s ridiculous how some people try to take advantage of those who are suffering. The San Diego county district attorney’s office advises residents to be aware of potential scams that may involve offers to clear debris, collections for charity, water testing, and contracting. Contractors should have a pocket license and photo identification and cannot collect more than 10 percent or $1,000 (whichever is less) in advance.
I would add another tip, if you want to donate and you’re not comfortable with donating online, many recognized charities have set up special accounts at banks where you can donate safely. Here, in the Pacific Northwest, you can make a donation at any USBank branch in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Be sure to tell the bank your donation is for Northwest Response. The special fund was set up through the American Red Cross with all of the donations earmarked for fire victims. Check with your employer to see if they have a dollar-matching program for donations like this…everything helps!