OAKHURST — Now several days into ongoing evacuations from the Detwiler Fire burning in Mariposa County, local relief agencies are busy coordinating efforts on behalf of those who are temporarily displaced.
The Red Cross has set up sanctioned shelters at three locations in the Oakhurst area, as of now: Oakhurst Evangelical Free Church, Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and Mountain Christian Center. The local Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) team is designed to work in conjunction with the Red Cross, which sets up the shelters and arranges for food for evacuees while the shelter is open.
VOAD currently has a drive through-donation drop off location across from Sierra Tel on Road 426 in the Sierra Star parking lot. While there is no specific or formal list of what displaced families and individuals are in need of right now, Laura has some good ideas for those who want to help evacuees. The drop off location is open from 7 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
“I’ve been telling people: put yourself in their shoes,” Laura advises. “Evacuees had about three minutes to leave their homes and now they are going to be away from home for a week so, what would you think? Personalize it and think of what you would have probably forgotten to take in their circumstance, that you may wish you had remembered.”
Based on that personal suggestion, Laura says they’ve had some really thoughtful donations with people responding creatively since the location was set up on Wednesday, July 19.
Here are some other things to think about when planning to contribute:
- Food and drink must be non-perishable and, for food safety requirements, no home-made goods can be accepted.
- Any snacks are really appreciated – especially those high in protein and drinks with electrolytes.
- Dog and cat food is not needed but kitty litter and puppy pads are helpful.
- Furnishings are not needed at this time as most people will return to homes intact.
- Focus on immediate needs for next week or two.
- Money can be accepted in the form of check or cash and will go to the Red Cross for local fire relief specifically for the Detwiler Fire.
- Online donations to the Red Cross can designated for this area by choosing or noting “Detwiler Fire” or “Mariposa Wildfire.”
- About 250 evacuees are currently being accommodated at three locations in Oakhurst.
- Yesterday’s gathering of donations went to EV Free church where the need is greatest. Today’s gathering will go to Sierra Vista and Friday’s bounty will go to Mountain Christian Center.
Laura says that some spontaneous shelters have opened there doors, such as The Landing across from Yosemite High School. Any additional donations will go toward such spontaneous shelters, even if they are not Red Cross shelters, on an as-needed basis.
On Wednesday, VOAD collected nearly $1,000 in cash from donors, and Laura confirms it will go directly to the Red Cross so they can continue to get what people displaced by the Detwiler Fire need. People in the area have been generous in their donations, all from the heart.
“They give what they are able to give,” says Laura. “One man wanted to help and only had six dollars in his wallet, and a retired lady brought six cans of food because that is what she has. Both of these gestures have the same value as people in the Lexus that dropped off a hundred dollar bill.”
If people are looking to donate horse feed or other large animal necessities, VOAD suggests that individuals purchase supplies and make arrangements to deliver those purchases directly to the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds. Donations for large animals are not being accepted at the VOAD drop off in Oakhurst. Laura notes that the Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT) has already stocked about a week’s worth of food for dogs and cats so that’s not needed at this time.
CCADT always needs kitty litter and puppy pads. In addition, the organization is on the lookout for crates for pets, and stainless steel bowls. Part of the reason they need some of these extra hardware-style supplies is that the Mariposa County Animal Shelter was evacuated, says Laura, so the EV Free shelter across from Yosemite High is full of animals that were sheltered to begin with.
There’s one thing that most people want who have been evacuated as a result of the Detwiler Fire, which started in Mariposa County on Sunday, July 16 and has scorched over 70,000 acres since.
“People are in an information vacuum and really want more information,” says Laura Norman, adding, “Really, they only want to hear one thing and that’s — when can I go home?”
If you’d like to help by staffing volunteer shifts with either the Red Cross, VOAD or the CCADT small animal shelter, please contact Lanie at 559-760-1372.