October 13, 2022 | by Steve Elliott
Relatively modest as California wildfires go, the Forks Fire in the Sierra foothills destroyed 25 homes and damaged 18 others. This area near North Forks, California, besides being the “Exact Center of California,” is the home of the Mono Indian Nation.
Despite the “small” size of the fire, your Conference Disaster Response Ministry responded. We were one of only three non-profits to participate in the Local Assistance Center in early October. All wildfire survivors deserve assistance. We took time to sit with 80 households and to hear their experience.
An extended family lost three residences on their property. One lady’s daughter passed away a week after losing her home. One young man lost all his possessions and his aging dog that ran into the fire. Another person had just invested his lifesavings in setting up a new watermelon farm. Gone. And sadly, an older resident was grieving the loss of her farm animals and the stray cats and dogs she cared for.
You never really get over the challenges of such losses and recovery is slow in coming. Hard to know where to start. The collateral damage is always sad. Many lose all their food from an extended power shutoff. Others lose a week or two of work, something that marginal incomes cannot afford.
We offered immediate assistance and referrals for other help. For example, Oakhurst UMC operates a thrift store where survivors can come to get anything they want for free. Our total assistance was about $8,000, bringing our total for the 2022 wildfires to $73,000.
We are currently working on replenishing our Conference Disaster Response Fund. We can use your help. Donate here California-Nevada Disaster Response Fund (brtapp.com) or by mailing a check payable to the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church, noting Disaster Response Fund on the memo line. The mailing address is PO Box 980250, West Sacramento, CA 95798.